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IDRA Newsletter – This Issue's Focus:

Student Voice for the New School Year

We are pleased to share this edition written entirely by high school students on education issues they care about. The students are members of IDRA’s Youth Advisory Board.

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LGBTQ+ Inclusive Education is Not Dangerous, Nor is it a Difficult Feat

by Manav Lund, High School Senior

If proponents of equity in our schools have learned anything in the past year, it is that the spotlight is not always a good thing. Vitriolic fear mongering at the hands of far-right politicians has resulted in a nationwide campaign to censor curricula with any analyses of inequity. LGBTQ+ topics, in particular, have faced unfair scrutiny.

To deprive any student access to inclusive, affirming education is far more dangerous than curricula that dare mention the facts that (1) LGBTQ+ people exist, and (2) they deserve basic human dignity.  

Critics purport that LGBTQ+ inclusive lessons are inappropriate and would distract from essential curricula, when in reality, creating affirming lessons to enrich history, social science and language arts curricula can be incredibly beneficial and fairly easy. The callous and wildly misinformed effort to censor LGBTQ+ topics in our classrooms represents a dangerous trend of the government-sanctioned repression of progressive ideas.  

Keep reading Manav's article

School Support Systems Help Students Succeed

by Shreya Selvaraju, High School Junior

A myriad of factors play into student success. Not all students have the same time, money and resources available to them. Infrastructure, such as study halls, peer tutoring groups, and teacher office hours provide students with a level of support that gives a more equitable learning experience. This also gives students the opportunity to fare better in their courses. 

These opportunities are integral to the growth of students, especially those in marginalized communities. Students who work two jobs to support their family may not have extra time to spend self-teaching and catching up after missing a class. Students without access to a car or reliable transportation may not be able to come to school early or leave late to take a test.

Student engagement is critical to effective learning.

The ability to receive help from a peer who has previously taken the class or to retake a test during school hours helps to mitigate the disadvantages these students face.  

Keep reading Shreya's article

Policing Students Through Dress Codes Needs to Stop

by Ryan Cyrus, High School Senior

As the current school year approached, many students were concerned about the impact of dress codes on their school life. Dress codes have been and always will be a concern for many students, more specifically for female students. Looking at the actions and reactions of many administrators and teachers, female students are disproportionately affected by dress codes in our schools.

As a result of extremely disproportionate levels of dress code discipline within schools, the environments created for our students are not safe mentally or emotionally.

We, as students, are told that dress codes are in place to protect us and our well-being when, in reality, they limit our freedom of expression while also protecting the teachers who may be subjective in deciding which student’s attire to check. This unnecessarily invasive policing of female students’ attire has the potential to create extreme destruction of female students’ confidence in their bodies, personality and style (Zhou, 2015). 

Keep reading Ryan's article

Equip Schools to Support Student Mental Health

by Tatiana Martínez Alvarez, High School Junior

Mental health is critical to a person’s social and emotional well-being. Feelings of inadequacy, misery or discontent are examples of what poor mental health can look like. It is probably one of the most challenging things a person can struggle with.

Teenage students face mental health issues the most. One out of six teenagers deal with anxiety and depression, but only half receive adequate treatment for their problems (Whitney & Peterson, 2019). Inadequate or untreated mental illness can lead to increased substance abuse, inflated incidence of depression or even early death (NAMI, nd).

Because students’ mental health goes untreated, students disengage in classroom settings, fail throughout the academic year and drop out. However, the numbers are much higher in different racial and ethnic groups.

Keep reading Tatiana's article

Mexican American Studies is American History

by Josué Peralta de Jesús, High School Senior

When people think of U.S. History, their minds often jump to the founding fathers, the American Revolution, the British Empire and many more events that one can consider “white history.” Although these pieces are undeniably crucial to our story, the term “U.S. History” often tends to overlook the role non-white populations or immigrants played in the advancement of our nation.

As a second-generation American with a strong bond to my Mexican heritage and identity, I never really found history in high school enriching. I learned about the American Revolution and the birth of our nation over and over, but I always wondered how my ancestors were doing and what role they had in the development of our country.

Keep reading Josué's article

School Safety Requires Listening

by Hawaii Guerin, High School Senior

A huge issue that U.S. students face is the fear of violence with no productive action taken to ensure our security. Beginning with things like gun control, racial tension and sexual assault, there is no effective protocol made to protect students from these attacks. There is a consistent pattern of administration and government officials not taking these experiences seriously and brushing them off.

I personally can vouch for this. Recently, my school district reintroduced a dress code in response to the Uvalde tragedy. This has raised questions among students and teachers as to how this is a step toward safety.

Keep reading Hawaii's article

We Need a Well-Rounded Education – An Open Letter to Lawmakers

by Kennedy Moore, High School Senior

Over the last couple of years, the buzzword “CRT” (critical race theory) has been circling the political stage due to propagandized fear of indoctrination. Many people, including several policymakers, have deemed CRT as a political agenda aimed to corrupt the minds of students to be anti-white and anti-American.

Take the action now to push the envelope, create an education that feeds and grows students’ cravings for knowledge, and sit back and watch.

The fault of this argument lies in the question of what they fear is “anti-American.” Is it realizing that this country has oppressed and participated in heinous acts that they need to actively take accountability for? Or, is it the realization that this country is rooted in a system that works off the backs of people of color since the original constitution was made? 

Keep reading Kennedy's article

Dress Codes – A Racist, Sexist History and Why They Must be Changed

by Adam Shelburn, High School Junior

Many school districts have the same or similar rules about dress codes: skirts and shorts must be below fingertip length, no leggings, no tank tops, no midriff can be shown, must have a modest neckline, no facial piercings, no hoodies or jackets, no hats, no colored hair.

School dress codes are a way for a school administration to legally be racist and sexist to students.

When students try to stand up against these sets of rules, we are told they are in place to “promote school safety, promote discipline, and enhance the learning environment for all students and staff”… 

Keep reading Adam's article

Free Tools for Teaching in a Climate of Classroom Censorship

Get lessons & tools at We All Belong ~ School Resource Hub

How has classroom censorship affected you?

Educator Survey  •  Student Survey  

Family Survey (English)  •  Family Survey (Español)

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New Classnotes Podcast Episode

Digital Inclusion Week: October 3-7

#DIW22                    #DigitalEquityNOW

Ways to Listen:



Amazon Music

Google Podcasts

Recent News

Recent Media Coverage

Attempt to Add Climate Change and Oppression Into Texas Social Studies Fails, by Darlene McCormick Sánchez, Epoch Times, September 27, 2022

Back to School 2022: UnidosUS Partners with Educational and Media Groups to Improve K-12 Learning, Progress Report, September 20, 2022

Book Bans Create Fear in Schools – During this year's Banned Books Week, Andrew Warner takes a look at school book banning policies and legislation, by Andrew Warner, Language Magazine, September 20, 2022

STATI UNITI L'infinito dibattito sulle punizioni corporali a scuola [United States: The endless debate on corporal punishment at school], di Manuela Cavalieri & di Donatella Mulvoni, Ticino (the most prominent Italian newspaper in Switzerland), September 20, 2022

Fronteras: Raza Unida Party members reflect on Chicano activism on its 50th anniversary, Texas Public Radio, September 9, 2022

High-poverty schools struggle to earn Texas’ highest rating. Some in the Rio Grande Valley break that trend, by Brian López and Eric Lau, Texas Tribune, September 5, 2022 (also ran in San Antonio Express-News, September 6, 2022)

Castigo físico en la crianza: ¿Por qué no es una opción? Valentina Boeta Madera, Diario de Yucatan, September 3, 2022

Unbanning History: Georgia teen organizers fight back against school censorship, Rhonda Sonnenberg, Southern Poverty Law Center, September 2, 2022 (Also ran in Georgia Law News, September 4, 2022)

Kid You Not – Misbehaving students to be smacked with wooden paddle as parents allow schools to bring back corporal punishment, by Tariq Tahir, The U.S. Sun, August 30, 2022 (Also in The Irish Sun, August 30, 2022)

Maestros podrán azotar con una paleta de madera a sus alumnos mal portados en un distrito escolar de Missouri, Alejandro González, La Opinión, August 30, 2022

¡A nalgadas! Distrito escolar en Missouri aprueba castigo corporal para disciplinar niños, The Associated Press, Al Día Dallas, August 29, 2022

Other News

September 26, 2022 – 2 Webinars: Strategies for Using Books to Promote SEL; Realities of the Digital Divide within Texas Colonias

September 23, 2022 – Big Give: IDRA – Ending Harmful Discipline

September 23, 2022 – Big Give: IDRA – Serving Emergent Bilingual Students

September 22, 2022 – Big Give: IDRA – Combatting Classroom Censorship

September 21, 2022 – Big Give: IDRA – Keeping Students Engaged in School

September 16, 2022 – Knowledge is Power - Banned Books Week activities • (Español)

September 8, 2022 – Knowledge is Power - Texas State Board of Education delays, New York Public Library webinar, and more • (Español)

September 2, 2022 – Learning Goes OnFederal Student Loans; Texas HB 4545 Tutoring Requirements, Mask Mandates and more! • (Español)

August 31, 2022 – August 2022 Issue of the IDRA Newsletter – This Month’s Focus: Authentic Family & Community Engagement

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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.
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September 30, 2022