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 2014 Issue ~ Articles


Current Issue:
March 2014

Focus ~ Curriculum Quality 

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

ISSN 1069-5672

Mesa Comunitaria Educativa – Community Collaboration for Education Advocacy
Community members from across the Texas Rio Grande Valley gathered recently to discuss educational issues in their schools. Lourdes Flores, president of ARISE, stated in no uncertain terms: “All of us want all our children to be ready for college. Anything else is unacceptable.” This was in response to the growing concern many families are expressing about how
Texas is in the process of lowering expectations for students. The statement was followed by thunderous applause in a room full of parents, educators and university administrators. This article by Hector Bojorquez and Aurelio M. Montemayor, Ed.D., features the concerns of community leaders like Ms. Flores, that the current dumbing down of core curricula and reviving of vocational education by the Texas Legislature and State Board of Education is yet another attempt to dismantle equity in an already inequitable system.

Distinguished as Default – Real Choice is Preparing All Students Well
The Texas State Board of Education, which oversees the public education system, approved final graduation requirements under House Bill 5 in January. The new plan sets out a 22-credit foundation portion and four credits in one of five “endorsements.” In this article, Laurie Posner, MPA, points out that completion of this new graduation plan does not automatically qualify students for Texas
’ Top 10 Percent public college admission or the Texas Grant unless they earn a “distinguished level of achievement.” Also, the state board has removed the Algebra II requirement and now only calls for Algebra II in two circumstances: for students seeking the STEM endorsement and the “distinguished achievement” designation.

PTA Comunitario Growth Prospects in
The IDRA PTA Comunitario concept is growing in the Rio Grande Valley . Kristin E. Grayson, Ph.D., discusses how, at the same time, this approach to parent engagement is being considered by the Oklahoma City Public Schools. A team from its Language and Cultural Services Department recently visited IDRA to learn about this model. The team also traveled to
, to meet the pioneers of the ARISE PTA Comunitario, to hear their history of advocacy and courage, and to brainstorm ways this approach could serve Oklahoma City

Treating All Students as College Material – Family Leadership in Action
Family leadership is most powerful at improving education for all children when collective efforts create solutions for the common good. This is one of the principles of IDRA’s Family Leadership in Education process. Families are concerned about the quality of education their children are receiving. They are suspicious of any attempts to track their children in non-college paths. In this article, Aurelio M. Montemayor, Ed.D., shares that rather than lower standards under the rubric of “college is not for everyone” they want their children supported and successfully taught to have the skills and courses necessary for college acceptance and eventually degree completion.

PTA Comunitario Growth Prospects in
IDRA has released a new report, College Bound and Determined, showing how the Pharr-San Juan Alamo school district in south Texas
transformed itself from low achievement and low expectations to planning for all students to graduate from high school and college. In PSJA, transformation went beyond changing sobering graduation rates or even getting graduates into college. This school district changes how we think about college readiness.

Video: See the press conference of the release of College Bound and Determined.

IDRA Research on Curriculum Quality
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 curriculum quality. 

March 2014 Issue ~ Newsletter Plus  

Classnotes podcasts on college readiness and curriculum quality

 Tracking vs. High Quality Education for All Students – Episode 124

Higher Math for All – Episode 87

College for All – Episode 75

What Students Need their School Counselors to Hear – Episode 45

Action for School Change – Episode 42

College Access for Low Income and Minority Students – Episode 41

Access to Higher Levels of Mathematics  – Episode 13


IDRA’s Quality Schools Action Framework™


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. 

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.

eBook: Key points parents need to know about the Texas
graduation requirements

MALDEF attorney Celina Moreno is speaking for Algebra II in all endorsement tracks at today’s State Board of Education hearing. Algebra II is important. It’s a non-negotiable requirement for college admissions. SAT & ACT require knowledge of Algebra II. Removing the Algebra II req means many students will find out too late that college options have been closed for them. See the TLEC statement.

IDRA PTA Comunitario Model – The Power of Family Leadership in Education… with a Powerful Twist

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.