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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March 2012 ~ Articles


March 2012

Focus ~ Parent and Community Engagement

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

ISSN 1069-5672

Hosting Superintendents, Quizzing Candidates and Marking Maps – A Fully Engaged PTA Comunitario
A superintendent is the main guest for a supper in a community center; a candidate is asked about his position on a new graduation requirement policy; and a parent documents online the effects of serious budget cuts to education. In this newsletter article, Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., describes these actions of families taking leadership and using actionable data to improve their neighborhood public schools.

Family Engagement in Early Childhood – IDRA’s New Semillitas de aprendizaje™ Cartitas Letters Home Series
Throughout the generations, we have passed down tales to children, who, in turn, fashion stories from their days. But in the formal context of the classroom, not all children have had access to the rich world of the story. IDRA has developed its Semillitas de apprendizaje™ bilingual supplemental curricula and materials to build on what is working and help address this gap. In this newsletter article, Laurie Posner, MPA, shows how the new Cartitas or “letters home” series is designed to fostering school-family partnerships around storybooks that speak to young children.

Youth Take on Budget Cuts – “We Want Fully Funded Schools”
In this newsletter article, Hector Bojorquez and Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., describe how 80 teenagers in the Texas Rio Grande Valley came together in a yard to connect with IDRA’s Fair Funding Now! initiative, which has informed community leaders across the state about the state’s draconian cuts to education. This particular event was designed to engage those who are directly affected by the state’s actions: our youth. The teens shared their own testimonies of how the budget cuts had affected them and their classmates. And they committed themselves to telling others about Fair Funding Now! and actions they can take.

Canton, Mississippi Youth… On Opening Pathways to College
Laurie Posner, MPA, shares highlights in this newsletter feature of how high school students gathered with members of their families and the community, the mayor and educators to reflect on how to expand pathways to graduation and higher education. The students shared their documentary photography to illustrate barriers and opportunities. Also see their perspectives in Movie format or PowerPoint format

March 2012 ~ Newsletter Plus

Fair Funding Now! online Crowdmap

Fair Funding Now! website

IDRA OurSchool portal – see the cuts in your
Texas school district (in Spanish)

Classnotes podcasts on parent and community engagement:

Latino and African American Communities Leading for School Reform – Episode 64

Fair Funding Now! for Excellent Schooling – Episode 102

The Power of IDRA’s Parent Leadership Model – Episode 3

High School Youth Tekies on College Access – Episode 74 

Fair Funding Now! Building Grassroots Leadership for Funding Equity, article by Laurie Posner, M.P.A., IDRA Newsletter


Courageous Connections interview
Joe Medrano, of the START Center , South Texas Adult Resource and Training Center of San Benito, Texas, on Engaging Parents through Powerful Coalition Building

Courageous Connections interview
(in Spanish) with a four leaders of the country’s first PTA Comunitario: Community Leaders Discuss How PTA Comunitarios Give Voice to Parents in their Children’s Education

Classnotes podcasts on early childhood education:

Reflections from Early Childhood Institute Attendees – Episode 12

Bilingual Stories for Young Learners – Episode 80

Early Literacy Development for English Language Learners – Episode 32

Cartitas Series – Letters Home with Family Activities
A set of 20 letters (10 English, 10 Spanish) for teachers to send home for parents. Each letter has activities related to the Big Book titles. Available now in sets of 25 letters in English or Spanish for one of 10 units for $20 per set plus shipping.

Sample Semillitas de aprendizaje™ story flipbook


Excerpt from Courage to Connect: A Quality Schools Action Framework™

Video Interview with Ellen Galinsky (YouTube) – Ellen Galinsky speaks to Katie Couric about her new book, Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs

See IDRA’s new tool, Creating Your Education Blueprint for Action – Mendez and Brown Community Dialogues Launch Kit available online or in print from IDRA


Seven Actions for Fulfilling the Promise of Mendez and Brown available online or in print from IDRA 

Learn more about Critical Exposure’s work with youth and documentary photography

IDRA Family Leadership in Education Center website