Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed. • IDRA Newsletter • June-July 2021 •

Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed.During the 2021 Texas legislative session, voices of families and students from Dallas, Houston and San Antonio to the lower Rio Grande Valley rang out, demanding education justice even as the pandemic and some members of the Texas Legislature limited public participation. The communities spoke for their rights and hopes in support of and in opposition to state-level policies.

IDRA was proud to work with students and families to ensure their voices were heard in policymaking, including by coordinating the following:

Advocacy training sessions to support families in understanding the legislative process and in sharing public comments and testimony;

• Weekly virtual “office hours” to provide support to individuals using the legislature’s public comment portals;

• A student summit to identify policy solutions from high school and college students impacted by COVID-19;

• A “train the trainer” program on how to present testimony to state legislators that resulted in 19 women of color in the lower Rio Grande Valley receiving trainer certification;

• Engagement with student advocates who held meetings, presented testimony and circulated news via social media;

• Weekly meetings of the Texas Legislative Education Equity Coalition (TLEEC), a statewide, cross-sector coalition focused on education justice founded by IDRA in 2001;

Regional virtual roundtable discussions (Mesas Comunitarias) to address critical education issues, including equitable school finance, digital equity, programs for emergent bilingual students, college preparation and access for all students, and mental health during COVID-19; and

• A “Save Civics Town Hall” and press conference to ensure the voices of students and other advocates were heard when they were denied meaningful opportunities to participate in legislative hearings on the classroom censorship bills.

ARISE Adelante and IDRA honored 19 women who completed a five-week virtual course on giving public testimony and comments to Texas state legislators. For the first time, these Mexican American women from the lower Rio Grande Valley made public comments to the Texas House of Representatives and Senate on education issues affecting their children and community.

We worked to ensure students and families were part of influencing education policies and were able to navigate the legislative process, which can be complicated. We are so proud of the many advocates across the state who demanded their voices be heard by Texas lawmakers.

Our family and student engagement work is far from over. Important community-based policy and implementation work is still happening, and IDRA is supporting a student advocacy council to focus on student-led policy work across the state.

Join us as we work to center students and families in our policy and advocacy work! Sign up to receive advocacy updates (, learn more about our research-based family engagement framework called Education CAFEs, and get involved with a growing network of advocates through TLEEC.

Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., is IDRA’s family engagement coordinator and directs IDRA Education CAFE work. Comments and questions may be directed to him via email at

[©2021, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the June-July 2021 IDRA Newsletter by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]