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March 2016 IDRA Newsletter – This month’s focus: College Preparedness

We must make sure that every student has access to high quality teaching and a quality curriculum that prepares them for post-secondary education. The future is in our hands.” – 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.

Ready Texas: Gathering Stakeholder Input to Guide Research on New Texas High School Graduation Plans

Laurie Posner, IDRA

by Laurie Posner, M.P.A.

On a bright and mild February morning in the Texas state capital, researchers, K-12 educators, policymakers, family and community leaders, higher education faculty, and students gathered with IDRA at the University of Texas at Austin to discuss the future of post-secondary education in Texas and the status of high school curricula under House Bill (HB) 5. At the core of the discussion were several key questions: What does Texas need to do to prepare all students for post-secondary success? Will changes in Texas graduation plan requirements under HB5 impact college and career readiness for high school students? If so, how?

IDRA’s Ready Texas: Stakeholder Convening, made possible through a grant from Greater Texas Foundation and carried out in partnership with the UTeach Program at University of Texas at Austin, afforded an opportunity to hear about and discuss these questions in person with diverse, cross-sector stakeholders. – Keep reading

Beyond the College T-shirt Days – Transition Counseling to Ensure College Success

Aurelio M. Montemayor, IDRA

by Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed.

Editor’s Note: The superintendent of Pharr-San Juan-Alamo ISD, Dr. Daniel King, saw that many of the district’s students were registering for college, but they weren’t actually staying and completing their studies. So seven years ago, he brought in “college transition counselors.” I interviewed two of PSJA’s counselors: Vera Boda, PSJA college transition lead, and Cynthia Martínez, PSJA college transition specialist. Following is a synopsis of their conversation.

Dr. King wanted to make sure that the school district’s responsibilities didn’t end when students graduated from high school and that there would be counselors who would follow them throughout their time in college. Transition counselors are both in the district to work with all the high schools and at the college campuses. We work with all seniors from day one. We have five comprehensive high schools and three special purpose campuses. All of them are early college campuses. – Keep reading

Leaders Turn Around Schools – Transformational Equity Focus Makes College Readiness a Priority

Nilka Avilés, IDRA

by Nilka Avilés, Ed.D.

Turning around challenged schools requires exceptional, effective leadership and practical guidance on what works for successful student outcomes (Theoharis, 2009; de la Torre, et al., 2013). Transformational leaders are agents of change directly responsible for leading, encouraging, empowering and overseeing the school-turnaround efforts regardless of their students’ circumstances. They are directly responsible for the preparation of students for college and career. It was this kind of transformational leadership that made a concrete difference for students at one middle school in San Antonio.

Critical Transformation Principles

The literature supports the need for equity-driven transformational leaders particularly for schools with English learners and with a majority of ethnically diverse students. These leaders embody the following six critical transformation principles… – Keep reading

Meet Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., IDRA Senior Education

Aurelio M. Montemayor, IDRA

This year, the IDRA Newsletter is highlighting our staff’s varied and diverse talents and backgrounds. Aurelio Manuel Montemayor, M.Ed., is an IDRA senior education associate and lead trainer. He grew up on the border in Laredo, Texas, and began his teaching career in 1964, also on the border in the San Felipe High School as an English teacher in the San Felipe neighborhood of Del Rio. His original plans to become a published writer were sidetracked by his immediate and permanent love of teaching. His pedagogic skills and development were central to his journey through becoming a VISTA trainer, a co-founder of an independent Chicano college and, during the early 1970s, proud to meet with Paolo Freire, who had been an inspiration for his education work in the community.  Aurelio came to IDRA in 1975 as a teacher trainer and developed key training-of-trainer tools for educators and others as exemplified in the WOW! Workshop on Workshops. – Keep reading

See the new eBook, “The Thorny Path of the Non-Compliant Xeriscapist,” by Aurelio Manuel Montemayor, M.Ed.

Immigrant Students’ Rights to Attend Public Schools – School Opening Alert

eBook: Supporting Immigrant Students’ Rights to Attend Public Schools

As schools are opening their doors for a new school year, this alert is a reminder that public schools, by law, must serve all children. The education of undocumented students is guaranteed by the Plyler vs. Doe decision, and certain procedures must be followed when registering immigrant children in school to avoid violation of their civil rights.

As a result of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Plyler vs. Doe, public schools may not:

  • deny admission to a student during initial enrollment or at any other time on the basis of undocumented status;
  • treat a student differently to determine residency;
  • engage in any practices to “chill” the right of access to school;
  • require students or parents to disclose or document their immigration status;
  • make inquiries of students or parents intended to expose their undocumented status; or
  • require Social Security numbers from all students, as this may expose undocumented status.

See our eBook: Supporting Immigrant Students’ Rights to Attend Public Schools

You can also download the alert as a bilingual school opening alert flier (English-Spanish) to share with others.

Get more information and resources on our dedicated webpage.

Classnotes Podcasts on Valuing & Asset-based Solutions

IDRA Classnotes Podcast

Community Expects College Prep for All – Episode 156

A Principal on Setting Expectations for College – Episode 126

A Principal on the Core elements of School Transformation – Episode 127

A Principal on Supporting Teachers for Student College Readiness – Episode 128

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

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