August 12, 2020 Edition

In this Issue
An Equity-focused Plan for Reopening Schools Safely

Infographic: Does your school reopening plan ensure educational equity?

Video Spotlight on the Rules for Reopening Texas Schools

Free On-Demand Webinars

More resources and trainings for teachers, school administrators, families and communities are on our Learning Goes On website. See Spanish-language version of this edition.
Policy Update
An Equity-focused Plan for Reopening Schools Safely
School reopening policies must be responsive to the needs of all families, students, teachers and schools. To ensure equity as schools reopen, IDRA makes the following policy recommendations to state, higher education, and school district leaders, including students and families. For a printable, sharable infographic, check out our equity checklist below.
See our full list of recommendations to ensure equitable educational opportunities for students in the immediate- and long-term in our online guide, Ensuring Education Equity During and After COVID-19. 

1. Additional funds and resources should be channeled to face pandemic-related issues.

Funnel CARES Act and other federal stimulus funding toward the K-12 settings that serve high populations of marginalized students.

* Invest in additional mental health professionals, including counselors and social workers. It is more important than ever to achieve recommended ratios and even go beyond in order to address the unique trauma and needs of students, families and school staff. Additional professionals can help to maintain contact with families during school closures.

Ensure emergency funds (state and federal) are used to address schools' virus-related needs that arise and supplement not supplant basic education funding. School districts that do not have additional resources to address unanticipated COVID-19 related needs should be not penalized with a subsequent funding shortage.

2. School districts should develop support systems for students' academic, social and emotional needs.

Develop small committees that include a counselor, social worker or family liaison who can ensure that the particular social circumstances of the family are taken into account in some way when determining the needs of the student.

Expand use of formative assessment systems (such as individual graduation committees in Texas). Formative assessments measure student progress over time and consider a variety of factors to determine course mastery.

Involve families and other stakeholders in decisions about uses of funds through surveys, meetings, etc. Use family support specialists for this purpose.

Encourage peer-to-peer mentoring and cross-age tutoring programs among students. These programs can encourage community bonds while using young adults' digital skills to build academic relationships. Programs can be monitored by teachers and other educational personnel.

3. Educators should maintain high academic expectations for students that prepare them for college admission, enrollment and success.

Work together with K-12 schools and institutions of higher education to heighten college counseling and enrollment information for students and families. Schools should provide clear online information and communications about college admission requirements, instructions for obtaining transcripts and teacher letters of recommendation, COVID-19-related adjustments, and resources for seeking financial aid and scholarships.

Develop, refine and maintain open platforms of communication with students and families to alleviate confusion and be responsive to emergent needs and concerns. Online platforms should be coupled with robust in-person outreach, particularly with families and students that districts have struggled to reach.

Advise students to access rigorous college preparatory coursework in high school, provide compensatory services and summer learning opportunities, and enhance instructional support so that students can succeed in those courses.

4. State agencies and educators should prioritize students' safety, privacy and well-being.

Ensure supervisors of juvenile justice facilities and residential treatment centers - including county facilities, halfway houses and other residential arrangements for youth - provide students consistent and appropriate access to education plans, supports and devices.

Establish state agency and educator protocols to perform periodic, comprehensive local needs assessments to assess the safety, privacy and well-being needs of local students and families.

Manage and store student data carefully. Data uses that jeopardize student privacy or risk marginalizing students should be prohibited.
Video: Facts in 3 Minutes
Video Spotlight on the Rules for Reopening Texas Schools
School reopening guidance from the Texas Education Agency and other state officials has changed rapidly, sometimes multiple times in a day. With the first day of school right around the corner, Dr. Chloe Latham Sikes and Ana Ramón, two members of IDRA's Policy, Advocacy and Community Engagement team, walk you through a breakdown of the latest state rules and guidance for Texas public schools. 
On-Demand Webinars
Webinar series

These free webinar recordings are available for viewing at your convenience.

Equitable Practices for Teaching Online
Digital Divide: Connectivity, Infrastructure and Devices
Tools & Tips to Alleviate the Homework Gap
Facilitating Online Math Sessions
PBL at Home & Across the Curriculum
ELAR Series:
* Journal Writing About the Present for the Future - ELAR Webinar Part 1
From Journaling to Personal Narratives - ELAR Webinar Part 2
From Journaling and Personal Narratives to Letter Writing - ELAR Webinar Part 3

Chief Science Officer Students Determined to Promote STEM Despite School Closures
Teaching Science in Virtual Learning Environments
How a School District Tackled the Digital Divide
Teacher, Parent and Student Perspectives on Using Google Classroom Effectively
Student Perspectives on a Changing School Climate
Nurturing Students' Hearts and Minds
Partnering with Families to Reopen and Reimagine Schools
Getting Schools Ready to Support Students Facing a New World of Challenges
Public Relief Funds Diverted Away from Public Schools
IDRA Analysis Shows U.S. Department of Education Rule Could Cost Texas Public Schools Millions

Issue brief cover
An IDRA analysis shows that a U.S. Department of Education rule could force some Texas school districts to reserve up to $44.2 million of critical CARES Act funds for private schools.  
School districts must typically reserve "equitable services" funds to provide services to private school students whose families have limited incomes. However, the new Department of Education rule requires some public school districts to reserve more CARES Act funds for private schools based on the total number of private school students within their district boundaries.
The new rule will cost Texas public school districts an additional $38.7 million beyond what they would normally be required to set aside. This rule does not apply to Texas charter schools, which do not have to reserve their federal funds for private schools.
The Department's interpretation of the CARES Act is completely inconsistent with the law itself, but completely in line with some federal efforts to funnel money away from public schools toward private schools and individual families.
The new rule penalizes school districts that make districtwide spending decisions or that allocate resources to serve any students outside of their Title I schools to address COVID-19 needs. These resources could be used to purchase technology and personal protective equipment or to hire additional counselors, social workers, and nurses to respond to the needs of teachers, students and families. 

Read IDRA's full analysis, including the potential impact on 185 Texas school districts.

Virtual VOE Webinars
Virtual VOE webinars
IDRA and the Consulate General of Mexico in San Antonio have been partnering to help Mexican and Mexican American families navigate the U.S. education system and learn about important educational opportunities in both countries.

Since the consultate is closed due to the COVID-19 crisis, IDRA's Ventanilla de Orientación Educativa (VOE) in San Antonio launched a portal with bilingual materials and videos for families. This resource is provided, in part, through the IDRA EAC-South and IDRA's Re-energizing Leadership to Achieve Greater Student Success project.
The Rights of Immigrant Students in PreK-12 Schools
This video describes the rights that immigrant children have to education which are 
guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. (10 min.)
Navigating the U.S. K-12 Education System 
This video describes the differences in education systems in Mexico and the United States to help families prepare registration documents and make sure their children graduate ready for college. (26 min.)
College Financial Aid Opportunities for Immigrant Students
This video outlines the many financial aid options that are available for college, particularly for first-generation college students. (15 min.)

Adult and Community Education Opportunities in Spanish
This video explains the adult education programs are available in the San Antonio area for adults. (14 min.)
Educational Opportunities in Mexico for Nationals Living in Both Countries
This video explains the education programs available for Spanish speakers living in the United States or returning to Mexico. (20 min.)
The Intercultural Development Research Association is an independent private non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring educational opportunity for every child. IDRA strengthens and transforms public education by providing dynamic training; useful research, evaluation, and frameworks for action; timely policy analyses; and innovative materials and programs.
IDRA works hand-in-hand with hundreds of thousands of educators and families each year in communities and classrooms around the country. All our work rests on an unwavering commitment to creating self-renewing schools that value and promote the success of students of all backgrounds.