Race Equity

IDRA EAC-South Technical Assistance

The IDRA EAC-South’s capacity-building technical assistance can help state and local education agencies in addressing inequities and desegregation issues impacting race equity. These issues may be self-identified or identified through an active school desegregation court order, an Office for Civil Rights resolution, or an investigation by a federal or state civil rights enforcement agency.

Among other benefits, promoting race equity for all students can help schools ensure equal opportunity for high academic achievement, improved school climate, and meaningful family and community engagement.

To ask about the availability of services for your school or school district, complete an intake form.

How racial equity might manifest itself in schools
  • Disproportionate school disciplinary practices for students of color.
  • Segregated student assignments between and within schools.
  • Inequitable access to advanced, college-preparatory coursework.
  • High teacher turnover and inequitable teacher quality assignments for high-minority enrollment schools.
  • Role of implicit bias and lack of cultural competency lead to lower expectations and differing treatment for students of color in the classroom.
  • Parents and families from underserved communities are disengaged with schools.
  • Inequitable opportunities-to-learn lead to lower student achievement, low graduation rates and high in-grade retention rates for students of color.
Examples of technical assistance and training available through the IDRA EAC-South
  • Assess discipline policies and practices and make recommendations to ensure loss of learning time is reduced, school climate improves and equity is achieved for all students.
  • Co-collaborate on equity plans to address current civil rights compliance issues.
  • Provide professional development to school leaders and educators on cultural competency and implicit bias and co-create train-the-trainer models.
  • Co-develop and assist with the implementation of school desegregation plans.
  • Develop tools for monitoring and ensuring fidelity of implementation of district and/or school improvement plans.

See our resource page for tools on educational equity and race. Highlights are below.

Podcast: Tools for Schools Dealing with Bullying – Podcast Episode 222

Classnotes Podcast (April 19, 2022). Bullying and harassment undermines students’ abilities to learn and hinders the establishment of safe spaces in schools. The IDRA EAC-South‘s Interrupting Bullying & Harassment in Schools online toolkit gives teachers and school leaders tools that to prevent bullying and harassment by fostering a positive school climate.

In this episode, Dr. Paula Johnson, Aurelio Montemayor, M.Ed., and Michelle Vega give an overview of the toolkit while discussing specific strategies from the perspective of teachers and a parent whose son was bullied. Dr. Paula Johnson is an IDRA senior education associate and director the IDRA EAC-South. Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., is IDRA’s family engagement coordinator and directs IDRA Education CAFE work. Michelle Martínez Vega is IDRA’s chief technology strategist.

Listen podcast.

Being a Culturally Curious Educator Supports Positive Mental Health for Students

As a future school counselor, I know when school mental health practices do not consider a child’s cultural background, they do them a disservice. Children are in school eight hours per day, five days per week for at least 13 years of their young lives, during the most crucial time for brain development, emotional growth and knowledge expansion.In a school setting, culturally sustaining leadership encompasses the ways administrators, teachers, mental health practitioners and anyone else interacting with children in that school can serve them in a way that enhances their learning experience. Cultural sustaining training, anti-racism training and underlying bias training equip educators to better serve students, particularly minoritized students.

See article.

Article: Lessons Learned from Principals on Valuing, Safeguarding and Healing Students

School principals balance many skills, demands and stakeholders. Powerful school leadership involves structure, modeling and deliberate action to create a school environment that is valuing (each student feels special and perceived through their assets), safe (students feel protected) and healing (hurts and painful experiences are dealt with over time).The valuing principal is rooted in a deep understanding of the many assets each student has and the gifts that come from students’ families. These leaders reject social prejudices and myths attached to families, their neighborhood or class and replace them with celebration and inclusion of everything a student is, represents and brings from home.Last summer, IDRA convened a panel of principals who served diverse student populations (IDRA, 2021). Dr. Timothy Vaughn from Edgewood ISD, Rawan Hammoudeh from San Antonio ISD and Jorge Cruz of Southwest ISD, and IDRA’s Dr. Nilka Avilés attested to the power of modeling high expectations for all students and considering each individual student as having high potential both academically and socially.

See article. 

Article: Four Leverage Points for Culturally Sustaining Practices

In our work, particularly through the IDRA EAC-South, IDRA has framed current research around culturally sustaining education into four quadrants that represent practices at the following critical levels: (1) culturally sustaining schools, (2) culturally sustaining leadership, (3) culturally sustaining educators, and (4) culturally sustaining pedagogy.These four leverage points represent components of the educational ecosystem that can be transformed by culturally sustaining practices to better serve marginalized students of color. Defining what culturally sustaining practices look like in these four levels also aids in identifying data points, situating student outcomes through an equity lens, identifying capacity building needs, and creating spaces for continuous community input and support. Simply, framing leverage points as critical levels gives educational stakeholders a way to quantify steps for successfully implementing culturally sustaining practices.

See article.

Article: Why Emergent Bilingual Education Needs Equity-Centered Pedagogies

As I worked toward earning my education administration certificate at a university in Chicago, I reflected on how my leadership efforts serve emergent bilingual students (English learners). Because I had been a bilingual educator for many years, I had established ways to help my students be successful. Also to stay current, I regularly reviewed research on the latest methods, strategies and systems for educating emergent bilingual students. I noticed that the content of many of my educational leadership classes did not include information about serving emergent bilingual students. Ways to serve these students’ specific linguistic needs and embrace their culture received no attention in any of my courses’ case studies or lectures presented by the faculty. They were not mentioned in discussions about how we could help all students receive an equitable and excellent, high-quality education.

See article.

Article: The Innovation of Translanguaging Pedagogy Enables Students to Use All of Their Tools

On a rainy Monday morning in Chicago in 2004, I took the day off from my auditing job to observe my niece Lolita in kindergarten because she’d been crying and begging not to go to school every morning. I wondered what was happening to cause Lolita to hate kindergarten. Upon entering the bilingual education classroom, I heard the teacher declare, “We don’t speak Spanish during our science period!” This happened during circle time. Lolita was sitting on the rug listening to her classmate explain the butterfly lifecycle in Lolita’s native Spanish. Lolita and her classmate were smartly using the resources of their different languages with very little regard for any artificial boundaries between English and Spanish. I watched with fascination as both languages allowed for more effective communication about the butterfly lifecycle.

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Article: Let the Youth Speak for Themselves – Fostering Substantive Conversations and Advocacy in the Classroom

Our goal as educators, parents and community members is to provide the best for the next generation. We make decisions with the best intentions. From conception on, there are a million choices that influence a student’s life. Some are minor. Some are huge. Take a moment to consider how many of them are informed by the students themselves. Our youth are telling us what they want and what they need. It is time that we listen.

Article: Families Celebrate Excellent Biliteracy Programs

While biliteracy enhances students’ career options for a stable economic future in an increasingly globalized economy, its value extends far beyond material and economic benefits. Self-concept, self-value and family connections blossom when a student’s home language and culture are maintained in tandem with English fluency and literacy. When schools support students to graduate fully biliterate, they build individual student self-worth, familial connections and economic utility.

Podcast: Nurturing Courageous Critical Conversations in the Classroom – Podcast Episode 221

Classnotes Podcast (March 23, 2022). Teachers understand the need for students to have substantive conversations to develop their vocabulary and connect to the subject matter. They build into their lesson plans, specific strategies to generate critical thinking, dialogue, problem-solving. And when students want to talk about tough subjects, like social issues that are very relevant to them, we cannot shut it down.

Dr. Paula Johnson and Dr. Lizdelia Piñón discuss the importance of giving students think time, tools for communication and safe spaces to speak and be heard. Dr. Paula Johnson is an IDRA senior education associate and director the IDRA EAC-South. Dr. Lizdelia Piñón is an IDRA education associate with expertise in bilingual and ESL education.

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Article: An Introduction to Culturally Sustaining Practices in the Classroom

Culturally sustaining instruction is a research-based approach that links students’ cultures, languages and life experiences within the classroom environment. These connections help students access rigorous curriculum and develop higher-level academic skills.When using culturally sustaining practices, educators deliberately create a classroom environment that acknowledges all students, connecting cultural experiences within daily instruction, embracing students’ native language and their families as assets to learning at school and home, and communicating clear high expectations for all students.

See article. 

Podcast: Benefits of Reflection for School Leaders – Podcast Episode 220

Classnotes Podcast (February 28, 2022). Critical reflection is important for professional growth among school leaders. It creates space for leaders to gain insights about their practices that can enhance leadership skills. Dr. Nilka Avilés sits down to talk with Dr. Encarnacion Garza about the difference between self-reflection and critical collective reflection. He outlines key rules that guide the process.

Dr. Encarnacion Garza, is a professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Texas as San Antonio, where he instructs future principals and teacher leaders. Dr. Nilka Avilés is an IDRA senior education associate and leads IDRA projects for principal coaching and school leadership team development.

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Podcast: STEM Journeys of Two Young Women of Color – Part 2 – Podcast Episode 219

Classnotes Podcast (February 7, 2022). In this second of two podcast episodes, Dr. Stephanie Garcia talks with two young women of color who are passionate about their pursuit of STEM.

CSO Alumna Isela, who identifies as a Chicana, is a sophomore at the University of Texas at San Antonio. She describes her transition from a senior graduating high school during the pandemic to a first-generation student at a large Hispanic-serving university. She describes her experience with virtual and in-person learning and offers advice to incoming college students, first-generation students.

IDRA’s STEM intern, Adriana, describes her current experiences as a Hispanic female in male-dominated STEM courses in high school. She asks Isela questions including how she stayed connected with peers and mentors during virtual learning due to COVID.

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Article: Playing Defense is Not Enough – Let’s Recommit to a Vision of Public Schools that Values Every Child, Every Educator, Every Community

• Michelle Castillo, Ed.M. • IDRA Newsletter • February 2022 •

Since January 2021, we have seen at least 37 states introduce laws that seek to ban “divisive” content in classrooms and school libraries (Schwartz, 2022). Legislation to censor classroom learning has evolved into a call for “parents’ rights” and “curriculum transparency,” with some states now targeting words like diversityequity and inclusion (Schwartz & Pendharkar, 2022). While we are busy playing defense, we must not lose sight of the long game and articulate clearly a vision for public education that values every single student.

Podcast: STEM Journeys of Two Young Women of Color – Part 1 – Podcast Episode 218

Classnotes Podcast (January 24, 2022). In this first of two podcast episodes, Dr. Stephanie Garcia talks with two young women of color who are passionate about their pursuit of STEM.

CSO Alumna Isela, who identifies as a Chicana, is a sophomore at the University of Texas at San Antonio. She describes her transition from a senior graduating high school during the pandemic to a first-generation student at a large Hispanic-serving university. She first planned to major in math but has recently decided to explore more coursework and consider going into STEM education.

IDRA’s STEM intern, Adriana, describes her current experiences as a Hispanic female in male-dominated STEM courses in high school. She is determined to push through the barriers she is facing to pursue a career in biomedical engineering. She is currently applying to multiple universities that have strong engineering programs.

Listen podcast. 

Article: Healing-Centered Engagement – Transforming Education in the Pandemic and Beyond

This time last year, like many students, I didn’t know if I would finish the semester. On paper, as a Harvard grad student, I seemed to thrive. But in a then-vaccineless pandemic, I was caring for a mom with cancer, worried for a dad teaching in person, and navigating a degree not originally meant to be online. I had quality preparation for school. I had access to remote employment and mental health care. Still, I was drowning – and I wasn’t alone.

Article: Equitable Education Policies in the U.S. South Can Push the Country Toward Education Justice

The U.S. South is home to a young and racially diverse student population. Nearly one in three public K-12 students in the country goes to school in the South (U.S. Census Bureau, 2019a), and about 40% of the country’s Black and Latino K-12 public school students live in southern states (U.S. Census Bureau, 2019b). This makes equitable education policies in the South important for every part of national educational policy.

Using Project-Based Learning and STEAM to Engage Students During the Pandemic – Highlights of IDRA EAC-South Assistance to Metro Nashville Public Schools

• by Paula N. Johnson, Ph.D. • IDRA Newsletter • October 2021 •

It all began with a spark! Metro Nashville Public Schools (PS) in Tennessee is home to over 160 schools and more than 85,000 students. Its mission is to “deliver a great public education to every student, every day.” There is a growing group of elementary teachers moving from a spark to a flame. They are ready to light the way for others.

Students Don’t Need Old-Style Remediation – Accelerated Instruction Helps Students Both Reconnect and Excel

• by Hector Bojorquez • IDRA Newsletter • October 2021 •

As students came back to school this fall, a recurring theme in conversations taking place among teachers is how much catching up students need to do. Standardized testing data shows a definite decline in students’ math and reading scores. Researchers across the country shared similar observations before the year began.

Anecdotally, we hear teacher stories about “learning losses,” like students saying: “I don’t remember how to multiply” and “Which nouns are capitalized?” Teachers tell of students feeling overwhelmed with the simplest of writing assignments and anxiety about previously mastered material. The situation is even direr when we examine how Black students, Latino students and emergent bilingual students fare.

See article.

Principal Checklist to Reduce Bullying and Harassment – Supporting Safety and Learning for All

• by Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed. • IDRA Newsletter • October 2021 •

Developing a safe and healthy school climate requires taking steps to prevent bullying and harassment in the school community. Principals should focus on connected, coordinated efforts and programs to train staff and engage students and communities for bullying prevention. The IDRA EAC-South will soon release an online technical assistance package with videos, literature reviews, and strategy guides for interrupting, dissuading and taking assertive steps in facing bullying and harassment. This article provides some categories for your checklist.

See article. 

Article: Stop the Bad; Do the Good – Hurting and Excluding Students Feeds the School-to-Prison Pipeline

By Morgan Craven, J.D. • IDRA Newsletter • September 2021 •

I have worked on school discipline and policing issues for more than a decade as an attorney representing young people in schools and courts, as an advocate supporting local campaigns, and as a collaborator on state and national policies. In these roles, when I talk to people about strategies to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline, I often frame the solution as “Stop the Bad, Do the Good.”

I admit that may seem overly-simplistic, particularly for an issue that so profoundly impacts the lives of and limits opportunities for so many young people. But I use this framing precisely because the lived experiences, data, and academic research on school discipline and policing are clear about what works and what doesn’t to create safe and welcoming schools for all students.

See article.

Podcast: Digital Inclusion is Vital for Students and Families – Podcast Episode 212

Classnotes Podcast (September 27, 2021). The digital divide affects millions of Texas households that cannot get broadband Internet access. When schools moved instruction online due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this country’s simmering digital divide reached a boiling point. Millions of students were unable to access schoolwork or their teachers.

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Article: Schoolwide Restorative Justice Practices – A Guided Tour

By Paula N. Johnson, Ph.D. • IDRA Newsletter • September 2021 •

Public schools are increasingly adopting a restorative approach for building community and relationships. Restorative justice practices involve developing welcoming learning environments that are inclusive of all students and foster relationships within the school community. Studies show that using restorative justice practices positively impacts student behavior (Johnson, 2019).

Successful implementation relies heavily on understanding that behavior is not the primary focus. IDRA encourages schools and districts to implement restorative justice as a means of addressing issues of equity schoolwide.

Here, I provide a guided tour of the implementation process and share expectations, challenges and benchmarks for the first two to three years.

See article.

Article: Culturally Sustaining Instruction Requires Culturally Sustaining LeadershipB

By Paula N. Johnson, Ph.D. • IDRA Newsletter • May 2021 •

The pandemic reminded us very quickly that relationships are important for effective student and family engagement. Millions of students found themselves disconnected from the school community when COVID-19 forced schools to go online. Teachers and school leaders have relied on these relationships to keep students engaged.

But disengagement did not start with the pandemic and it will not end when schools reopen this fall. There is growing concern about the continued disengagement that disproportionately affects high percentages of Black students and Latino students.

See article.

Article: Anti-Racist Schooling for All Students of Color

By Bricio Vasquez, Ph.D., & Altheria Caldera, Ph.D. • IDRA Newsletter • May 2021 •

Anti-racist schooling occurs as a result of an explicit stance against racism accompanied by purposeful, strategic actions that affirm students of color. It humanizes all students by respecting their cultural backgrounds and exemplifies cultural pluralism rather than cultural homogeneity.

All levels of racism historically have existed in education: interpersonal, internalized and institutional. Interpersonal racism is racial discrimination that occurs between individuals and groups. Internalized racism is racial bias held by people of color against their own racial group. Institutional racism is race-related oppression embedded in institutional policies and practices. Anti-racist educators reject all three.

Anti-racist education is liberatory only if it counters the specific manifestations of racism that inflict violence upon all racially-minoritized students. Said differently, inter-group analyses of racism help educators recognize and reject the distinct ways schools enact racialized violence (cultural, psychological, physical) against students of color.

See article.

Podcast: Teaching that is Culturally-Relevant -Responsive and -Sustaining – Podcast Episode 211

Classnotes Podcast (May 18, 2021). In exploring the role of teachers in bringing about academic success for students of color, three terms are often used interchangeably: culturally responsive, culturally relevant, and culturally sustaining. But understanding the differences in these terms can deepen how educators work with their students in their diverse classrooms.

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Article: Visions and Provisions – Planning for K-12 Ethnic Studies Implementation

By • Irene Gómez, Ed.M. • IDRA Newsletter • May 2021 •

As a Latina raised in Texas, I come from a state where 52% of students are Latino and 12% are Black. These figures won’t reflect the full intricacies of ethnic-racial identity – youth who are both Black and Latino, for instance – but they do represent a majority who aren’t primarily of European descent (TEA, 2020).

I think back to my senior year of high school, when our English class read Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, and I realize that in my 11 years of schooling, we had only covered U.S. racism through two books, both written by white women: Uncle Tom’s Cabin and To Kill a Mockingbird.It’s fitting that my first school-assigned book authored by and centering a Black American and his perspective on racial justice focused on invisibility.

See article

A Culture of Student Engagement Through Schoolwide Restorative Practices – Podcast Episode 210

Classnotes Podcast (April 26, 2021). Often, people talk about restorative practice as an approach to student discipline. It is true that restorative practices include a reactive component designed to restore relationships by repairing harm. But that is not the best place to start implementing restorative practices in a school.

In this episode, Dr. Paula Johnson, director, IDRA EAC-South, and Terrence Wilson, J.D., IDRA regional policy and community engagement director, describe how restorative practice is proactive in developing community by building relationships and positive school climates that value all students. They describe a range of ways educators can start using restorative practices to create an environment where students want to engage.

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Article: Students of Color Deserve Culturally Responsive Instruction and Ethnic Studies

byAltheria Caldera, Ph.D., and Nino Rodríguez, Ph.D. • IDRA Newsletter • March 2021

The Problem: Cultural Incongruence

Traditional schooling, with norms and standards rooted in whiteness, often is not responsive to the cultures of today’s diverse student population (Huber, et al., 2006). This results in a cultural misalignment that forces many students of color into the margins of the school community.

Oftentimes, to succeed in school, marginalized students must embrace – or at least appear to embrace – “whiteness as property” (Donnor, 2013). In other words, they must accept and enact white culture as superior and Western European knowledge as factual. Those who resist are forced to endure an education that “murders” the spirits of marginalized youth or at least hinders their academic performance (Love, 2019).

See article

Article: How the IDRA EAC-South Helps School Districts Increase Access to Advanced Courses for Students of Color

by Paula Johnson, Ph.D. • IDRA Newsletter • October 2020

Many long-established testing procedures and selection practices limit equitable access to high level courses and programs for students of color. Enrollment of Black students and Latino students in specialized instructional programs, such as gifted and talented, advanced placement and dual credit, is disproportionately lower than other students.

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Socioeconomic-Based Strategies for Racial Integration

More than ever before, social science research identifies an array of academic and social benefits for students stemming from learning in integrated educational settings, which is even more beneficial for younger students. This set of materials provide research and strategies to pursue the integration of K-12 schools.

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Article: We Are Important, and So is Our History

By Quardasha Mitchell • IDRA Newsletter • June-July 2020

Editor’s note: When the Texas State Board of Education held hearings in November 2019 to consider adding a new high school African American Studies course to the state curriculum, students from Dallas ISD traveled to Austin to testify about their experience in a district-level African American Studies course. Subsequently, in April 2020, the board unanimously approved the course. The following is the text of one student’s testimony.

Why we should approve the standards for this class should not be a question that I should have to answer. This course is one of the most informational, yet intriguing courses to me. Why? Because it is about the history of my people that I once knew little of and the history that is overlooked in the books that we have in school today.

See Article

See African American Studies Testimony Videos

Article: Maybe One Day, the Pain Won’t Feel the Same

By Earl Williams • IDRA Newsletter • June-July 2020

Editor’s note: When the Texas State Board of Education held hearings in November 2019 to consider adding a new high school African American Studies course to the state curriculum, students from Dallas ISD traveled to Austin to testify about their experience in a district-level African American Studies course. Subsequently, in April 2020, the board unanimously approved the course. The following is the text of one student’s testimony. 

I would like to start by thanking you all for welcoming us here today and zoning in on the echoes of a minority group that often goes unheard.

Simply put, African American Studies should be implemented because societal barriers can only be broken down through education of the seemingly uneducated. And with the current climate of our society, this education is needed more than ever.

See article.

See African American Studies Testimony Videos

Implications of Texas SB 1882 Patchwork of Partnerships

By Chloe Latham Sikes, Ph.D. • IDRA Newsletter • May 2020

Three years ago, the Texas legislature passed Senate Bill 1882 to incentivize school districts to relinquish local control over campus operations, governance and budgets to an external partner presumably to lead to school improvements. Eligible external operating partners include charters, private schools, private childcare providers, non-profit organizations and institutions of higher education.

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A Win for Equity – Texas Board to Adopt Curriculum Standards for African American Studies Course in Historic Vote

San Antonio, April 16, 2020 – IDRA applauds the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) for its preliminary approval today of the proposed curriculum standards for a state-approved African American Studies course. With the unanimous vote, the SBOE takes a step in the right direction to create excellent and equitable schools in which all students learn about the rich contributions to this country that African Americans have made in all disciplines.

See Story

African American Studies Testimony Videos

Article: Using Equity Audits to Assess and Address Opportunity Gaps Across Education

By Paula N. Johnson, Ph.D. • IDRA Newsletter • April 2020

Education leaders today are able to compile all kinds of student achievement data. However, many do not intentionally look for signs of systemic inequity. To recognize root causes of inequities, educators and communities can use equity audits to examine their school’s culture, trends, practices and policies. These audits are especially needed now as inequities are exacerbated by COVID-19 school closures. Uncovering opportunity gaps is the first step in developing a plan to address them.

This article discusses the purpose, measures and outcomes of an equity audit. It showcases examples of how the information from an audit can assist schools and districts in addressing inequity.

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School District Takeovers History and Today – Podcast Episode 200

Classnotes Podcast (March 6, 2020). For several decades, some states have used the threat of taking over a school district to force some kind of change. But this isn’t a new trend. Since 1989, over 22 state governments and agencies have taken over more than 100 local public school districts across the country.

In this episode, Ana Ramón talks with Terrence Wilson, J.D., and Chloe Latham Sikes, M.A., give a quick history of school takeover policies and describe the problems they create that hinder equitable education. Ana is IDRA’s deputy director of advocacy, Terrence is IDRA’s regional policy and community engagement director, and Chloe is IDRA’s deputy director of policy.

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Article: Racial and Gender Disparities in Dress Code Discipline Point to Need for New Approaches in Schools

By Chloe Latham Sikes, M.A. • IDRA Newsletter • February 2020

Recently, two Black high school students in Barbers Hill Independent School District in Texas were disciplined for violating the district dress code by wearing their hair in dreadlocks (per their families’ cultural custom). As in this case, while supposedly established to minimize disruption in the classroom, dress code policies and their disciplinary consequences can actually disrupt the learning opportunities and school environment for students, and can be discriminatory against students’ gender, religious and cultural expression (NWLC, 2018; Sherwin, 2017), with a disproportionately harmful impact on students of color and girls.

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Article: How Schools Can End Harmful Discipline Practices

By Morgan Craven, J.D., Nilka Avilés, Ed.D.,Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed. • IDRA Newsletter • February 2020

Positive cultures of teaching and learning support students’ attendance, academic achievement, engagement and positive self-concept. These cultures depend on effective discipline, which addresses challenging and unsafe behaviors constructively.

Unfortunately, data show the prevalent overuse of ineffective exclusionary discipline measures, such as suspensions and alternative school placements, in schools across the country. Students of color, students with disabilities, and LGBTQ students are more likely to be punished, even though they are not more likely to misbehave (Rumberger & Losen, 2016).

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Article: At What Cost? A Review of School Police Funding and Accountability Across the U.S. South

By Terrence Wilson, J.D. • IDRA Newsletter • February 2020

An 11-year-old girl pushed against a brick wall and shoved to the ground in New Mexico, a 15-year-old girl grabbed by the neck and thrown to the ground in Florida, an 11-year-old boy slammed to the ground twice in North Carolina: These incidents from last year are just a few of the documented instances of school resource officers harming the students they are charged to protect. The experience of these students reflects that of many youth of color across the country.

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Article: IDRA EAC-South Focus – Diversifying the Teacher Workforce

IDRA Newsletter • January 2020

The national teacher shortage significantly impacts a district’s ability to increase diversity among its instructional staff. An increasing body of literature promotes the benefits of a racially-diverse teacher workforce. Concurrently, schools struggle with cultivating a robust pool of highly qualified educators. This is especially problematic for many districts across the South that are still under legal obligation to do so.

In most cases, the U.S. Department of Justice or Office for Civil Rights files a complaint against the districts. When a court finds a district to be non-compliant because of discriminatory faculty assignment, the district often enters into a voluntary agreement with the court or is under a consent decree. The court outlines a detailed plan for the district to increase recruitment, hiring, and retention of teachers of color. If the district meets its required actions within the time set by the court, the court may grant the district unitary status.

The IDRA EAC-South is currently providing technical assistance services in five states to seven school districts that are under federal desegregation orders related to faculty recruitment and assignment.

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Article: Texas Public School Attrition Study Highlights, 2018-19 – Attrition Rate Down to 21%, But Texas High Schools Lost Over 88,000 Students Last Year

By Roy L. Johnson, M.S. • IDRA Newsletter • November-December 2019

The latest attrition rate data for Texas public schools shows continued gradual improvement but also persistent disparities among racial and ethnic student groups. IDRA’s latest attrition study found that 21% of the freshman class of 2015-16 left school prior to graduating in the 2018-19 school year. IDRA’s analysis of rates by race and ethnicity shows continuing disparities.

IDRA conducted the first comprehensive study of school dropouts in Texas for the 1985-86 school year. IDRA continues to conduct these attrition analyses to assess schools’ abilities to hold on to their students until they graduate. This year’s study is the 34th in a series of annual reports on trends in dropout and attrition rates in Texas public schools. Attrition rates are an indicator of a school’s holding power, or ability to keep students enrolled in school and learning until they graduate.

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Article: Discipline Strategies to Combat Faulty Assumptions that Target Black Male Youth

by Daryl V. Williams, Ed.D. • IDRA Newsletter • October 2019

No student group is more or less likely to misbehave (NAACP LDF, 2017; Fabelo, et al., 2011). But Black male students are punished more often and more severely in our nation’s schools. While only representing 8% of public school students, Black males account for 25% of students receiving out-of-school suspensions and 23% of students expelled (U.S. Department of Education, 2018). From office referrals to suspensions and expulsions, the most substantive impact of school discipline is on Black males (Anyon, et al., 2014).

For instance, Black male students are more likely than their White peers to receive an office referral for mild behaviors, such as disrespect, excessive noise and insubordination (Gregory & Weinstein, 2008; Skiba, et al., 2002). Interpretation of these behaviors is subjective, meaning educators and administrators perceive them to be more or less serious depending on the identity of the student. In addition, many educators have the common misperception that exclusionary discipline deters inappropriate behavior.

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Maybe One Day, the Pain Won’t Feel the Same – Testimony for African American Studies Curriculum

by  Earl Williams, Trinidad Garza Early College High School in Dallas ISD

I would like to start by thanking you all for welcoming us here today and zoning in on the echoes of a minority group that often goes unheard.

Simply put, African American Studies should be implemented because societal barriers can only be broken down through education of the seemingly uneducated. And with the current climate of our society, this education is needed more than ever.

Maybe one day, the pain won’t feel the same. Me and my people won’t be lost in tears, dancing in this hurricane. Our blood won’t keep getting splattered on concrete as if it’s art for their eyes.

What a shame. It is 100-plus years later, and killing Black people is still a consensual crime.

Keep Reading

Article: New Discipline and Safety Policies for Texas

by Morgan Craven, J.D., June-July 2019

To ensure all students succeed, schools must end policies and practices that create harmful school climates and push students into the school-to-prison pipeline through exclusionary discipline and criminalization. During the recent Texas legislative session, many policymakers focused on “school safety” in response to school shootings.

While some proposals focused on building positive school climates, others prioritized approaches that would make schools less safe for students, including making extreme changes to “harden” facilities, expanding harmful and punitive school discipline, and increasing the number of weapons on campuses.

See article

eBook: Resources on Student Discipline Policy and Practice

According to the Office for Civil Rights, Black students are suspended and expelled at a rate three times greater than white students. Harsh punishments are disproportionately used on children of color, low-income children, children with disabilities, and LGBT youth. These practices discourage children from attending school and increase the risk of students dropping out.

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This eBook by IDRA provides links to tons of resources for schools, communities and policymakers, including data, toolkits, videos, best practices and strategies.

eBook: Resources on Student Discipline Policy and Practice (second edition)

5 Strategies for College Readiness in Diverse Schools – Podcast Episode 175

Classnotes Podcast (September 29, 2017) Some students face hurdles that end up steering them away from college. Some face barriers that block their access altogether. But today’s school leaders can change that by creating a college-going culture for a student population that is becoming increasingly diverse. In this episode, Dr. DeShawn Preston, higher education research fellow at the Southern Education Foundation, outlines five successful strategies for schools to create college readiness for students of color and students from immigrant families. DeShawn is interviewed by David Hinojosa, J.D.,director of the federally-funded IDRA EAC-South.

Show length: 13:35

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Classnotes Podcast Episode: Using Socioeconomic Status for School Integration – #172

There is no doubt that diverse classrooms have significant benefits for students both socially and academically, while segregated learning settings are not just benign but detrimental to students and their communities. School integration, then, is critical. Regrettably, many schools across the country have re-segregated along racial and ethnic lines.

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David Hinojosa, J.D., director of the federally-funded IDRA EAC-South, discusses how some school districts in the South have turned to using students’ socioeconomic backgrounds to help integrate schools. David is interviewed by Hector Bojorquez, associate director of the IDRA EAC-South.

Listen now: Using Socioeconomic Status for School Integration – #172


Article: Using Socioeconomic Indicators as a Tool for School Diversity and Integration

As many schools across America have re-segregated along racial and ethnic lines, several school leaders are looking for solutions that can help reverse course. Recognizing the several academic and social benefits stemming from diverse students learning together, some school districts in the South have turned to using students’ socioeconomic backgrounds (SES) to help integrate schools.

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The Century Foundation reports that, nationwide, 32 of the 91 schools and districts using SES strategies are located in the southern federal Region II (Potter, et al., 2016). The IDRA EAC-South has assisted several districts with school integration plans and is available to assist others in Region II* with technical assistance in this area.

Read article: Using Socioeconomic Indicators as a Tool for School Diversity and Integration, by David Hinojosa, J.D., and Erica Frankenberg, Ed.D., IDRA Newsletter, April 2017

Article: Three Approaches for Dismantling Discriminatory Discipline in Schools

by Paula N. Johnson, Ph.D., & José A. Velázquez, M.Ed., March 2019

In recent years, schools across the nation have moved toward resolving behavior issues that do not take the child out of the classroom – focusing on a “whole child” approach to student learning and success built on relationships and community.

The IDRA EAC- South has a three-pronged approach to addressing disparities in school discipline. First, technical assistance builds capacity to increase positive school climates through research-based services; second, revising discriminatory school discipline practices better aligns schools with the district’s tiers of support for behavior; and third, building capacity for effective family and parent engagement to improve relationships between all stakeholders.

As a result, districts we’ve worked with across the IDRA EAC- South region report lower rates of suspension and expulsion each year.

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Article: Office for Civil Rights Data Reveals Patterns of Inequity

by Bricio Vasquez, Ph.D., January 2019

Ensuring all children are valued and receive a quality education requires the use of extensive data. One tool for gathering relevant data is the Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC) dataset. The CRDC contains comprehensive information on the patterns of educational inequities within schools and their districts. Stakeholders may use these data to better document issues of inequity and use the knowledge to inform solutions. Too often, equity problems in education are woven tightly into the culture of institutional processes such that they cannot be easily identifiable by district leadership. Tools such as the CRDC can help districts understand patterns of inequities within their own schools by making comparisons with others.

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Article: In-grade Retention National Trends and Civil Rights Concerns

by Dr. Paula Johnson, April 2018

This offering from Paula Johnson focuses on the issue of in-grade retention and the problematic trends in our national data. She discusses research on retention, its traumatic effects, and how it must be addressed as a civil rights issue. Alleviating in-grade retention requires reform on the part of schools and must be achieved through improving course offerings and educational programs for all students, providing professional support to get to the heart of reducing bias, and countering resource gaps and inequities across public schools.

Article: Institutionalized Discrimination… Does it Exist in Your School

by David Hinojosa, J.D., April 2018

This article addresses how schools can identify institutionalized discrimination – discriminatory practices that manifest through behaviors, actions and policies of public institutions that target or exclude based on race, sex, gender, national origin, religion and disability, among others. This kind of discrimination can be difficult to stop because it often has a basis in patterns and practices from historical norms. David Hinojosa pinpoints three critical areas – expectations, school funding and curriculum – as starting points for schools to identify and correct their own discriminatory policies and practices.

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eBook: Resources on Student Discipline Policy and Practice

Data from the Office for Civil Rights reflect the reality that confronts other researchers and advocates who study school discipline: minority students, particularly Black students, remain a population that is disproportionately subject to discipline practices that remove them from the academic environment.

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