The IDRA Newsletter is published 10 times a year. Each edition focuses on issues in education, striving to provide many different perspectives on the topics covered and to define its significance in the state and national dialogue. The IDRA Newsletter can only be mailed to U.S.addresses, but pdf and web copies are available online.

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February 2014 Issue ~ Articles


Current Issue:
February 2014

Focus ~ Fair Funding 

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Newsletter Executive Editor
María "Cuca" Robledo Montecel, Ph.D.

ISSN 1069-5672

The Latest Texas School Finance Equity and Adequacy Court Case – Round Six
Texas Taxpayers and Student Fairness Coalition et al vs. Williams
Last year, Judge Dietz ruled from the bench that the current school funding system in Texas is “inefficient, inequitable and unsuitable…” He planned to have the written ruling four to six weeks later wherein he would provide more specificity regarding its findings of fact and rulings of law. But since the Texas Legislature increased funding to restore some of the cuts made two years earlier and made a few other changes, the district court agreed to convene new hearings in the case in for January 2014. In this article, Albert Cortez, Ph.D., gives an update on the case and the expert report IDRA provided for this next round of the trial.

Updated Infographic: Texas School Funding Equity Gap
See IDRA’s new graphic showing how some children are considered more valuable than others in Texas. It doesn’t have to be this way. (shareable web graphic, png)  

Happy Birthday to You – The Civil Rights Act at Fifty
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. And while much has been accomplished in that time, there is still work to be done. This article by Bradley Scott, Ph.D., presents is a brief reflection on where we need to go to capture the full spirit of the law. He also invites readers to visit IDRA’s new online Equity Hub and to share your own examples of real civil rights in action in education.

Visit the IDRA SCCE Equity Hub to get stories about school leaders who are successfully facing issues of equal educational opportunity, school desegregation, civil rights as well as school safety issues, like bullying, harassment, conflict and violence.

  • Visit the Equity Hub to share stories of your success
  • See what your peers are doing to ensure civil rights in education
  • Share ideas and learn from others
  • Get equity tools
  • Post your own stories with photos or video at our Equity Hub Crowdmap

It’s even easier to post info from your mobile device: Download the free Ushahidi app and search for “Picture Equity” crowdmap.

Designed particularly for school administrators, teachers and parents in school districts in Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas (the states served by IDRA’s federally-funded South Central Collaborative for Equity).

Listen to our podcast episode on: Six Generations of Civil Rights in Education – Episode 132


IDRA Names 2014 José A. Cárdenas School Finance Fellow –
Dr. Oscar Jimenez-Castellanos
IDRA has named Dr. Oscar Jimenez-Castellanos to be our 2014 José A. Cárdenas School Finance Fellow for this inaugural year of the program, which we have established to honor the memory of IDRA founder, Dr. José Angel Cárdenas. The goal of the program is engage the nation’s most promising researchers in investigating school finance solutions that secure equity and excellence for all public school students. Read the full announcement about Dr. Jimenez-Castellanos and IDRA’s new fellowship program.

IDRA Research on Fair Funding
As we begin yet another year of working to assure equal educational opportunities for every child, it is the “Research” in our name that we are purposefully and with profound intent spotlighting in the IDRA Newsletter. And we are doing so by increasing visibility and awareness of IDRA’s research and the impact it has had for children. Each newsletter this year will feature our research contributions to particular topic. This month, the spotlight is on IDRA’s research for fair funding. 

February 2014 Issue ~ Newsletter Plus  

Classnotes podcasts on fair funding 

Fair Funding Now! for Excellent Schooling – Episode 102

Implications of Inequitable School Funding – Episode 68

Fundamentals for School Change – Episode 52

Texas School Finance Trial News Dashboard
IDRA has created a dashboard to collect news about the Texas school finance trial for easy access for parents, school folk & communities. You can see the latest news stories, live tweets, images, etc.

The Cost of Inequity in Education – A Review of Policy-Related Research (Issue brief)

This literature review looks at the policy-related research regarding education and the cost of inequity. Research has established that the benefits of providing additional schooling for a greater percentage of students far outweigh the additional expenses that are associated with keeping more students enrolled all the way to graduation from high school and college.

Tracking, Endorsements and Differentiated Diplomas – When ‘Different’ Really is Less
IDRA released an updated policy note following the close of the legislative session to outline the new Texas graduation plans and changes to high school curriculum. The new system encourages placing students in different paths toward graduation, some college bound and some bound for labor. This is bad educational policy and practice. To create true opportunities for all of our children, we must commit to high quality curriculum for all students and full, equitable funding of all our schools, especially those neighborhood public schools in our neediest communities.

Why More Charter Schools and School Vouchers Are Not Needed in Texas
IDRA released a new policy brief in May 2013 that presents IDRA’s analyses finding that no new additional charter sites are needed in Texas. Instead, more effective and efficient use of the available charters currently authorized by law could address existing demand. IDRA’s research also shows that vouchers do little if anything to improve local public schools and, for the most part, fail to deliver on promises to provide better quality academic outcomes for students enrolled in lower performing public schools.  

IDRA OurSchool portal – designed to help you – educators and community members – find out how well your high school campus is preparing and graduating students, what factors may be weakening school holding power, and what you can do together to address them. 

Courage to Connect: A Quality Schools Action Framework
At a time when public education makes a world of difference to our students, communities and economic success, many are looking for strategies that will work for them and that will last. Courage to Connect: A Quality Schools Action Framework shows how communities and schools can work together to strengthen their capacity to be successful with all of their students.