Enlightened Public Policy for Equity and Excellence in Education

Enlightened public policy provides both the appropriate standards and the resources schools need to serve all children. This includes ensuring quality teaching and learning that benefits all children as well as the equitable resources that will make this a reality. IDRA promotes not only policymaking that reflects sound, accurate information about schooling, but also policymaking that reflects the voice and will of parents, community members, and educators as leaders in opening paths for all students’ futures.

A Snapshot of What IDRA is Doing

Developing leadersIDRA’s South Central Collaborative for Equity (SCCE) played a key role in the annual conference of the Texas Association of Black School Educators. The SCCE participated in an administrators’ institute in collaboration with the McNeil Foundation and conducted an administrator seminar on school reform using the Six Goals of Education Equity, which were developed by IDRA. The conference annually draws more than 400 predominantly African American superintendents and central office and campus-level administrators from across the state to address policy, practice and research as it impacts the performance of African American students in public schools.

Conducting research – IDRA was contracted by a Texas school district to conduct a study to look at the three following dimensions of its high school success as they pertain to English language learners: effective leadership, quality teaching and other student support. This study measured the effectiveness of programs, instructional accommodations and regulatory compliance. IDRA conducted mock-audits of English language learner-related documentation at all levels. The study also reviewed the quality and quantity of documented planning, program implementation, support and leadership at the high school. Upon completion of the study, IDRA presented recommendations to the district.

Informing policy – IDRA has been re-convening bilingual education advocates to develop coordinated strategies to improve instruction for limited-English-proficient students in Texas. Policy priorities include: (1) increasing state funding for bilingual education; (2) strengthening existing requirements related to on-site monitoring; (3) strengthening program requirements for serving LEP students enrolled at the high school level; and (4) coordinating efforts to ensure that students who are in the process of learning English have priority in future funding increases, before efforts to expand dual language programs are pursued.

Engaging communities – IDRA recently held its Brown and Mendez Blueprint Dialogues for Action in Oklahoma to foster joint African American and Latino leadership in fulfilling the promise of the Mendez and Brown rulings for minority students. This dialogue gave the Oklahoma community an opportunity to address educational achievement of Latino and African American learners in public schools by challenging cross-race, cross-sector stakeholders to discuss and plan joint action around what it would take to fulfill the promises of Brown and Mendez for students. Participants across Oklahoma will likely become more involved in educational changes that benefit African American and Latino students as a result of their participation and use of capacity-building products and technologies.

What You Can Do

Get informed. The Council of Chief State School Officers created a report, Strengthening Teacher Quality in High-Need Schools: Policy and Practice, designed for state policymakers, teachers, teacher mentors, professors and deans at teacher preparation programs, and other stakeholders. The report focuses on four challenges presented to teachers in high-need settings: (1) recognizing and enhancing teacher effectiveness; (2) strengthening mathematics and science teacher quality; (3) innovations to provide specialized knowledge and skills needed to teach diverse learners; and (4) the role of leadership on teacher attrition in high-need schools. It also provides state and district examples for addressing these challenges and offers suggestions on state policies that can remove obstacles and facilitate solutions. To access the free report, visit http://www.ccsso.org/publications/details.cfm?PulbicationID=354.

Get involved. Be willing to reach out to others in your community for support across racial and ethnic communities to build groups and coalitions to secure civil rights for all children.

Get results. Encourage policymakers to support appropriate measures to support fair funding at the state and local levels. The New America Foundation has developed the Federal Education Budget Project, an online database that contains the latest data on federal education financing. To see how your state and/or school district rates in terms of per-pupil spending, student poverty, achievement, school finance equity and more, visit

Comments and questions may be directed to IDRA via e-mail at feedback@idra.org.

[©2008, IDRA. The following article originally appeared in the IDRA Newsletter by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Every effort has been made to maintain the content in its original form. However, accompanying charts and graphs may not be provided here. To receive a copy of the original article by mail or fax, please fill out our information request and feedback form. 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.]