• by Bradley Scott , Ph.D. • IDRA Newsletter • October 2005
The IDRA South Central Collaborative for Equity has successfully completed a three-year cycle of activity as a federally-funded equity assistance center in Region V (Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas). What impact has the center had over the three years of its operation? How have students benefited regarding their academic outcomes, civil rights access, and non-discriminatory access to schools and programs? This article will discuss ways in which the South Central Collaborative for Equity has assisted schools to equitably serve all students.
Three Main Purposes
The center supports three broad purposes through its technical assistance and training. First, it supports the creation of educational equity for all students in public schools, including federally-funded charter and magnet schools. To this end, the center helps schools to implement the Six Goals of Educational Equity to ensure that all students and families receive the full benefit of public education (Scott, 2002).
Second, the center provides assistance to public schools to ensure that no policies, practices or activities violate the civil rights of students. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin, and Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender. The technical assistance and training provided by the center assists public schools to prevent such violations or to correct such violations when districts, the Office for Civil Rights, or the U.S. Department of Justice identifies them.
Finally, the center assists public schools to address matters of school desegregation, the problems that arise because of desegregation, or to address post-desegregation concerns when districts have achieved unitary status. In this area of technical assistance and training, the center continues to provide guidance to public schools in many areas of their daily operation and policy formation to implement school desegregation plans that they have developed on a voluntary basis or that are the result of action by the federal court or some other entity.
Examples of Services Provided to Schools
The services of the center support quality teaching and learning and school reform, particularly as such reform is framed under the No Child Left Behind Act. Some selected examples of the center’s technical assistance and training demonstrate the impact the center has had over the past three years. The districts received these services at no cost to their local operating budgets.
- The center has worked with at least six districts in Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas to implement IDRA’s Focusing on Language and Academic Instructional Renewal (FLAIR) project as a critical pedagogical intervention over the past three years. This technical assistance and training has improved teaching quality, transformed classroom instructional practice and increased student academic performance in reading as measured by state assessments. (See http://www.idra.org/content/category/29/211/469/ for more information.)
- The center provided more than 45 focused educational assistance activities to public schools. This is an extended or long-term assistance activity in which the school district is committed to transforming an educational practice or policy-related concern and requests extensive assistance to accomplish this outcome. One district in New Mexico, for example, requested assistance to create a multicultural framework change in instructional, assessment, leadership and accountability practices to ensure that all students became academically successful. Several school districts in Texas requested extended assistance to implement the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) for English language learners. Several school districts in the region requested assistance to implement the IDRA Math Smart! institute at the middle and high school levels (see August 2005 IDRA Newsletter or http://www.idra.org/services_to_educator/math-smart/).
- The center provided more than 3,600 field service days of training and technical assistance at no direct cost to school systems in topics, such as diversity in the classroom; English as a second language strategies that work; dual language instruction; bilingual education; stopping bullying and teasing; preventing sexual harassment; SIOP and the IDRA SI-Plus training; multicultural education; assessment and accountability approaches; increasing parent involvement and engagement; parent leadership; and increasing girls’ involvement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
The staff of the IDRA South Central Collaborative for Equity have been proud to work with thousands of educators, parents, community members and students during the past three years. The staff have worked closely with state department of education personnel in all five states, other technical assistance providers, and organizational leaders and their members whose interests focus on access and educational opportunity for all students regardless of their race, gender or language. It is good to know that the work of IDRA center will continue.
Looking Forward to the Next Three Years
IDRA has officially received notice that it has successfully competed for a new three-year cycle of operation for the center. As of September 15, 2005, the center is available to continue its important work in the region. It is critical to continue to move forward in support of all students as local and state agencies implement NCLB and work to meet the accountability obligations for adequate yearly progress.
School districts in the five-state area are eligible to receive technical assistance and training support to meet these requirements. The superintendent or his or her designee can complete the needs assessment form or call IDRA at 210-444-1710.
The IDRA South Central Collaborative for Equity stands ready to assist any public local education agency to ensure that schools work for all learners.
Scott, B. “Who’s Responsible, Who’s to Blame?” IDRA Newsletter (San Antonio, Texas: Intercultural Development Research Association, May 2002).
Bradley Scott, Ph.D., is director of the IDRA South Central Collaborative for Equity. Comments and questions may be directed to him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
[©2005, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the October 2005 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.]