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February 2016 IDRA Newsletter This month’s focus: Valuing & Asset-Based Solutions

“A vital nation must have educational parity for all students and not parcel out one set of opportunities for some and minimal expectations for others. All students deserve an equitable, excellent and college bound education.” – Dr. María “Cuca” Robledo Montecel, IDRA President and CEO

Published 10 times a year, each edition explores issues facing U.S. education today and strategies to better serve every student. This newsletter is published in print and on the IDRA website, in addition to this eLetter format.

Ensuring Equity and Nondiscrimination in Student Discipline Policy and Practice

by David Hinojosa, J.D.

From a recent social media post showing a young high school girl being flung across the floor by a school resource officer (Ford, et al., 2015) to national reports of stark racial disparities in suspension rates, school discipline has resurfaced as a critical civil rights educational issue. Importantly, these events have forced many school boards, leaders and communities to take a second look at the systemic issues underlying poor disciplinary practices and the antiquated, ineffective policies around them.

Many of those ineffective policies stem from the adoption of zero tolerance measures over two decades ago (National Summit on Zero Tolerance, 2000). These policies initially targeted very specific, serious offenses involving weapons, drugs and acts of extreme violence. But they soon grew to include a number of minor, nonthreatening offenses (Kang-Brown, et al., 2013). Not surprisingly, the proliferation of zero tolerance policies led to a spike in disciplinary actions, including suspensions. – Keep reading

#AllMeansAll – Finding and Addressing the Roots of Educational Inequity

by Laurie Posner, M.P.A.

The New Year’s issue of Foreign Affairs is dedicated to a discussion of national and worldwide inequality. As editor Gideon Rose puts it, over the last 30 to 40 years “real incomes and wealth have stagnated for the vast majority of Americans, even as they have skyrocketed for those at the top,” (Rose, 2016).

Economist Francois Bourguignon points out that over the last two decades, while inequality among nations has fallen, within some of the world’s largest economies, inequity rose. This has been the case in the United States, where inequality increased 5 percentage points over the period on the Gini co-efficient, an international measure of inequality.

The observations echo a recent Standard & Poor’s report, which finds that income inequality has been rising significantly in recent decades and “can harm [the nation’s] sustained economic growth” (2014).

S&P’s analyses point to educational inequities and gaps as major culprits: the United States is not graduating enough students who are prepared to access and succeed in college, and educational opportunity is increasingly stratified by earnings. Stratification in schooling increasingly impacts lifetime earnings as jobs that require post-secondary education now often pay more than twice those that require a high school diploma.

This is not a small problem, impacting just a few students. – Keep reading

STEM Pathways for Girls of Color – A Review of the Literature

by Paula Johnson, M.A.

Although women make up nearly half of the nation’s total labor community, they represent just over a quarter of the STEM workforce (U.S. Census Bureau, 2013). Moreover, the 2013 Census revealed that African Americans represent a mere 6 percent of STEM-related positions – a growth of only 4 percent in 40 years.

The 2013 Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering Report by the National Science Foundation found that participation of African Americans and Latinos in science and engineering occupations, both professional and related, is low in comparison to the full U.S. workforce. Furthermore, women’s participation in engineering, mathematics, and the computer and physical sciences remains well below those of their male counterparts.

An even greater disparity is presented by the noticeable absence of African American and Latina women in STEM-related professions, comprising only 2 percent of all scientists and engineers working in science and engineering occupations (NSF, 2013).

We must find innovative opportunities that will provide schools the resources and support to attract, engage, and retain more minority young girls and prepare them for STEM-related education and careers. – Keep reading

Meet David Hinojosa, J.D., IDRA National Director of Policy

This year, the IDRA Newsletter is highlighting our staff’s varied and diverse talents and backgrounds. David Hinojosa is one of the newest employees on board at IDRA, but he is hardly new to IDRA. Before joining IDRA in April 2015, David served as regional counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund’s Southwest Office where he spearheaded MALDEF’s educational civil rights litigation and policy work. In that role, he often collaborated with IDRA’s experts in a range of issues, including school finance and English learner programs. Now in addition to serving as IDRA’s national director of policy, David directs the IDRA South Central Collaborative for Equity. – Keep reading

Connect with Us Online

Encourage your friends to sign up for the IDRA Newsletter by email, IDRA eNews, Graduation for All and Classnotes Podcast notices.


Classnotes Podcasts on Valuing & Asset-based Solutions

Affective Lessons are Effective Lessons – Episode 119

Connecting Every Student to a Meaningful Future – Episode 85

Busting Myths About Children of Poverty  – Episode 50

Creating Leadership Opportunities for Students – Episode 30

Higher Math for All – Episode 87

Student Voices on Being Valued  – Episode 54

We’re here to help!

See How IDRA’s Training and Technical Assistance Can Help Your School or District

With an unwavering commitment to student success, IDRA services provide innovative, practical and sustainable solutions for diverse student populations based on the unique needs of each district, campus or classroom. A few examples of assistance packages include:

  • Assessing and Elevating the Education of English Language Learners Districtwide
  • Transforming Early Childhood Programs to Centers of Excellence
  • Using Semillitas de Aprendizaje™ in the Classroom
  • Coaching and Mentoring Novice Teachers in Culturally Diverse Classroom Settings
  • Implementing Engagement-based Sheltered Instruction
  • Building Authentic Parent and Community Engagement
  • Creating a College Readiness Culture for Success
  • Integrating Math and Science Instructional Strategies for English Learners
  • Mastering Dropout Prevention with the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program
  • Building and Sustaining Professional Learning Communities
  • Conducting Research and Evaluation

Email us for more information.