Transforming Education by Putting Kids First
IDRA Newsletter – This Issue's Focus:
Culturally Sustaining Schools
In This Issue
Texas HB 3979 Will Hurt Students by Curtailing Schools’ Equity Efforts

Culturally Sustaining Instruction Requires Culturally Sustaining Leadership

Anti-Racist Schooling for All Students of Color

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

What the Term “Culturally Sustaining Practices” Means for Education in Today’s Classrooms
Recent News
Texas HB 3979 Will Hurt Students by Curtailing Schools’ Equity Efforts
by Altheria Caldera, Ph.D. 

The equity work being done across the United States stems from the acknowledgement that racially-minoritized students have not excelled in mass numbers because they have been historically under- and mis-served in schools.

Just passed by the Texas Legislature, HB 3979 stymies these efforts by restricting teachers from integrating race-related “controversial” issues and current events and forces them to whitewash social studies, U.S. history and government classes by silencing discussion on how race and racism shaped contemporary society.

Texas is not alone – more than a dozen other states have debated, passed, or are attempting to pass similar bills using language from the Trump administration executive order. These bills will harm the important work on diversity and inclusion being done by many school districts and will undoubtably negatively impact all students, especially students of color. 
Culturally Sustaining Instruction Requires Culturally Sustaining Leadership
by Paula N. Johnson, Ph.D.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made it even more apparent that relationships are important for effective student and family engagement. Even when schools fully reopen in the fall, there is growing concern about disengagement that disproportionately impacts Black and Latino students, especially given systemic educational issues that impact these learners. The U.S. education system is guided by policies that were designed to suit white, middle-class norms and public schools are largely taught by educators who hail from dramatically different backgrounds than their students. Implicit bias is a major threat to welcoming school environments and student engagement.

The IDRA EAC-South is rolling out a set of materials on culturally sustaining instruction and leadership to support educators with tools for challenging, investigating and embracing a new vision for engaging with families and students from marginalized communities. In this work, we developed a new framework based on current research in culturally sustaining education. The frame comprises key leverage points: schools, leadership, educators and pedagogy. Allowing students to be their authentic selves empowers them to think more critically and analytically about the world and content they engage in and can yield greater academic success.
Anti-Racist Schooling for All Students of Color
by Bricio Vasquez, Ph.D., & Altheria Caldera, Ph.D.

Anti-racist schooling requires taking a clear stance against racism accompanied by purposeful, strategic actions that affirm students of color and exemplifies pluralism and cultural diversity. Because of the longstanding Black-white binary that prevails in race relations work, many only see racism in these terms and negate the experiences of other students of color. Educators must be aware of the specific issues regarding anti-Asian, anti-Latino, anti-Native American, and anti-Black racism in education.

The first step in anti-racist schooling is to ensure that all racially minoritized students are in safe learning environments. Other vital strategies include hiring and retaining diverse teachers and adopting curricula that bring diverse elements of ethnic studies into the classroom and that do not rely on stereotypes. 
Tuesday, June 15 at 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm CT

When students return to school after this extended time away, it will be more important than ever to strengthen school-family-community relationships in order to reconnect with students, especially those who have been harder to reach during this time of distance learning. 

The IDRA Valued Youth Partnership has demonstrated tremendous success helping students focus on their education and increasing the school's holding power by concentrating on students with the highest need of support. Over the past 35 years, the VYP has kept 35,000 students in school and positively impacted the lives of 750,000 children, families and educators!

Get an overview of the program, its strong research base and steps to bring the program to your school, including how you can use federal relief funds to cover the cost.

In unprecedented times such as these, schools and districts need a partner with a record of proven success, because all children are valuable, none is expendable.
Visions and Provisions – Planning for K-12 Ethnic Studies Implementation
by Irene Gómez, Ed.M.

Established at an institutional level out of student-led protests in the 1960s, ethnic studies courses analyze power dynamics in the movements and contributions of historically excluded racial and ethnic groups in the United States. These classes vitally support these communities and their students.

At the K-12 level, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Rhode Island, Texas and Washington have implemented high school ethnic studies courses and continue to grapple with decisions over their scope and content. High-quality ethnic studies courses are place- and community-based, focused on challenging racial and ethnic power dynamics, and are action-oriented. As part of their efforts to create more equitable schools, the IDRA EAC-South offers guidance to districts through the U.S. South and provides training, technical assistance, and other supports to schools, education agencies and related groups. 
What the Term “Culturally Sustaining Practices” Means for Education in Today’s Classrooms
by Altheria Caldera, Ph.D.

Throughout the decades, IDRA has used several equity-centered pedagogical terms to describe our work with ethnically and racially minoritized children and youth. When we use the term culturally sustaining educational practice, we are describing work that not only respects and honors but intentionally nurtures and expands ethnically and racially minoritized students’ cultures.

To ensure that all students’ cultural heritage and histories are not lost, culturally sustaining practices perpetuate the historically devalued cultures of students of color. Evidence of this stance can be seen in IDRA’s work, from establishing ethnic studies high school courses, to encouraging education policies that center the needs of emergent bilingual students and in supporting policies and practices aimed at eliminating disciplinary practices that disproportionately discriminate against Black students.  
Recent News
IDRA is Hiring!

Get details and help us spread the word!

  • Education Associate – with experience in emergent bilingual (English learner) education
  • IDRA EAC-South Consultants
  • Grant Writer Consultant
  • Policy Communications Strategist
  • Researcher and Program Evaluator
Media Coverage in May

Commentary: Telling the story of Mexican American civil rights, Sarah Zenaida Gould, San Antonio Express-News, May 28, 2021

‘Critical race theory bill’ for Texas schools headed to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk, Eleanor Dearman, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, May 28, 2021

Texas seniors who failed STAAR can’t graduate unless lawmakers act soon, Emily Donaldson, Dallas Morning News, May 21, 2021

Historians decry Texas bill that would restrict school lessons on race, racism, by Jeremy Blackman, Brittany Britto, Staff writers, San Antonio Express-News, May 21, 2021

Texas educators, not the Legislature, should decide how to teach current events, op-ed by Altheria Caldera, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, May 12, 2021

Pasco Revises Controversial Student Information Sharing Policy, D'Ann Lawrence White, Patch, May 4, 2021
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5815 Callaghan Road, Suite 101
San Antonio, Texas 78228
Phone: 210-444-1710
The Intercultural Development Research Association is an independent, non-profit organization. Our mission is to achieve equal educational opportunity for every child through strong public schools that prepare all students to access and succeed in college. 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. 
June 9, 2021