IDRA strengthens and transforms public education by leading policy analyses and advocacy; dynamic teacher training and principal coaching; useful research, evaluation and frameworks for action; and innovative student, family and community engagement.
We are committed to an asset-based philosophy, respecting the knowledge and skills of the individuals we work with and building on the strengths of the students and parents in their schools.
Throughout its history IDRA has been a vocal advocate for the right of every student to equality of educational opportunity. IDRA was founded in 1973 by Dr. José A. Cárdenas, then was directed by Dr. María “Cuca” Robledo Montecel. Today, IDRA is directed by Celina Moreno, J.D. See IDRA’s latest annual report, The Power of Voice and Action – Accelerating the Promise, for stories of IDRA’s work in 2019 before the pandemic and stories in 2020 showcasing our quick and meaningful response.
IDRA was founded as Texans for Education Excellence in 1973. The name was changed to Intercultural Development Research Association in 1975. In recent years, the initials. IDRA, are more commonly used.
IDRA bases our work on research and data and works to better public education across the nation.
For 50 years, IDRA has worked to ensure that all students have equal educational opportunities, and we focus on those students from communities that have historically been underserved like Black and Latino students and students from families with limited means.
We do this by empowering student and parent leaders. We do this by training thousands of teachers each year across the country. We do this by putting research into the hands of advocates and lawmakers. And we do this by supporting our community to join us in advocating education justice through public policy.
For 50 years, IDRA has been a leader in drafting legislation and policy agendas that promote equal educational opportunity. Our work has led to critically important laws for bilingual education, school funding equity, school discipline practices, immigrant students’ rights to attend school, and much more.
How we do this is significant. We build coalitions, develop research-informed policies, and support community-centered advocacy.
For example, IDRA leads cross-sector coalitions, such as the Texas Legislative Educational Equity Coalition and the Georgia Coalition for Education Justice, that convene diverse partners, including educators, students, business and faith leaders, and other advocates to challenge censorship laws, anti-DEI efforts that target systemically marginalized students.
We help diverse students, families, and other advocates influence policymaking through a proven family and community engagement model, our virtual Southern Education Equity Network, and our Education Policy Fellowship to prepare the next generation of advocates of color.
We also provide impact litigation and legal advocacy support. Since its founding, IDRA has supported marginalized students in seminal cases like Rodriguez v. SAISD, Plyler v. Doe, and Fisher v. University of Texas and in multiple state cases that changed how schools are funded. IDRA’s legal work includes research and strategy, expert reports and testimony, administrative complaints, and amicus advocacy to elevate the voices of students, families and educators.
IDRA has decades of experience training teachers and school administrators across the U.S. South to address issues of discrimination based on race, national origin, gender, gender identity and religion. We guide educators to provide welcoming spaces for all students, implement peer-to-peer student mentoring programs, and develop instructional resources for educators.
We support schools and districts with coaching, training, and technical assistance resources. IDRA often receives requests to share our expertise in school district-level policies and classroom curriculum and instructional practices in the areas of ensuring fair school discipline, supporting emergent bilingual students and families, developing authentic family engagement strategies, expanding access to STEM and college-focused coursework, and creating safe and welcoming schools for all students.
In response to the wave of anti-equity laws that took effect beginning in 2020, IDRA developed the award-winning We All Belong – School Resource Hub with curated and original lesson plans, articles, learning materials and advocacy resources for teachers and students. IDRA developed the hub based on surveys and focus groups with students, families and teachers.
IDRA’s student programs demonstrate our core values that recognize the assets all students bring and that listen to students and engage them both in their own learning and in their leadership to transform schools and communities. And through our Youth Advisory Board and youth participatory action research projects, we provide a more focused way to engage with students to center their communities’ expertise, needs and dreams in our work.
IDRA evaluates data to inform policy and practice, produces actionable research and data dashboards, and supports student researchers through participatory action research projects.
Education and community leaders and policymakers need key information to make good decisions about school policy and practice. They need to listen to the voices of those who are impacted by those decisions, and they need clear, quality data.
IDRA’s data analyses have informed policymaking and litigation, such as examining the potential impact of school funding proposals and the breadth of the Texas Top Ten Percent Plan. We put actionable data in the hands of community groups, like IDRA’s Education CAFEs, as they explore their own schools and take on projects to work with their schools for improvements.
IDRA’s Community Action Data Dashboards provide a new level of high-quality, accessible data to see how their schools are doing and plan ways to improve them.
Through IDRA’s research-based evaluation work, teams can assess, and document project outcomes using qualitative and quantitative methods and improve future activities by clarifying what works, for which students and under what conditions.
Families can be vocal and assertive leaders advocating for excellent schools. Through IDRA’s 50-year history, a strong model of family engagement has evolved, constructed from the experiences in the field, especially with Title I schools and the families whose children attend them.
Through decades of experience and work with thousands of families whose children attend high-poverty schools, we know that families care deeply about their children and their children’s future. What is often missing is a better way for schools and families to partner so that everyone has a seat at the table. IDRA’s Family Leadership in Education framework captures this approach. IDRA’s goal is bigger than parent involvement in education, rather it is family leadership. This model is a vision of all families as advocates of excellent neighborhood public schools.
Grounded in our framework, IDRA’s Education CAFE™ model is a research-based innovation for school-family-community collaboration. Education CAFEs have led to parent organizing and parent participatory action research along the U.S.-Mexico border that changed local policy in 10 school districts on how schools support all students to be on track for college and in higher math education. Education CAFEs have also changed how schools support students to graduate bilingual and bicultural and to reduce exclusionary discipline.
IDRA supports the people most impacted by policies to participate meaningfully in how they are crafted. We assist them with data and policy analysis on issues they are concerned about as well as on how to navigate power systems to influence policymaking.
An independent, private non-profit organization, IDRA works with thousands of K-12 educators, and family, community and higher education partners to...Read More