This issue's focus: Student Voice
"Students are going to come back to school with very strong opinions on social issues...  We have to be sensitive to and respect student voice, because, if we do not, it is very possible that students will walk out on our style of education and learning."
- Gylon Jackson, IDRA webinar "Nurturing Students' Hearts and Minds" 
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.
The Chief Science Officers program  emphasizes student voice across the globe for STEM engagement. CSO students create action plans that encourage STEM throughout their community. These action plans enable students to further their STEM education, bring awareness of future career paths, and advocate for STEM. Alongside the action plan process, CSO students network with many different corporations to further advance our future endeavors in STEM fields.

During tough times like these, the entire world is searching for something. Something to take their minds off of the pain that we are seeing all around us. What we are searching for is a four-letter word: Hope.

While hope is something we need at the CSO program, we don't just look for hope; we create hope within our communities. 
Tutoring My Kids
by Serenity Nance, Kazen Middle School in South San Antonio ISD

In October 2019, we started our IDRA VYP tutoring program at Palo Alto Elementary School, tutoring kindergarteners and first graders. I was a little nervous at first because I didn't know if I was the right person for the job. After about a week of tutoring, I got the hang of it, and I stopped doubting myself so much. Of course, there was still that thought in the back of my mind telling me I was going to fail the kids, not help them enough or not even impact their lives. But I pushed all that aside and did my best.

How Tutoring Helped Me
by John Tscheulinat, Kazen Middle School in South San Antonio ISD

Tutoring in the Valued Youth Partnership has improved my leadership skills and my confidence level. Tutoring helped me always remember to be on time because if I missed the bus, I wouldn't be able to go tutor my tutees. My tutees depend on me for a lot of things like helping them with what they need to know.
by Alana Price, middle school student advocate in San Antonio ISD
The Black Lives Matter movement is a protest against police brutality directed toward the Black community. People across the globe fight for equal rights for the Black community and to eliminate police brutality. For many years, Black people, indigenous people and other people of color have been treated differently because of the color of their skin, which led to the Black Lives Matter movement.

The Black Lives Matter movement has shown that it isn't enough to not be non-racist. We must commit to being anti-racist. The systems in America are set up to be racist toward Black people, indigenous people and other people of color.
by Quardasha Mitchell, Trinidad Garza Early College High School in Dallas 
Quardasha Mitchell
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.

I used to sit in history class and wonder, "Why don't they teach us more about the history of African Americans?" I often get angry because the history that we learn is more than just Christopher Columbus and the people who took land from the Native Americans.

We need to know the real history of African Americans because what is taught in schools about African Americans is limited.
Student Videos
See our video gallery featuring testimony for  African American Studies presented before the Texas State Board of Education.

Testimony Highlights by Multiple Students video

Testimony Highlights by Multiple Students
Testimony by Earl Williams video

Testimony by Earl Williams

Testimony by Quardasha Mitchell
Student Voices on Reopening Schools
In early June, IDRA kicked off our series of webinars on reopening schools by inviting students to share their experiences during COVID-19 school closures and their concerns about returning to school this fall. Highlights are below.

"I feel very emotional. The way school ended, going from eighth grade to high school, I lost a third of my friends who I won't be able to see or talk to again. We didn't get to say goodbye."
- Lena Rivas, freshman, Northside ISD

"Logically, I know we shouldn't go back to school. And it is horrible to force students to be confined together for eight hours a day in our current climate. But emotionally, I cannot handle the isolation anymore."
- Kennedy Kearns, senior, Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City ISD

"I think that going back to in-person teaching is a good idea. But at the same time, why would you put students in danger of catching COVID? Especially teachers, who have families to go to?"
- Gracie Hernández, recent graduate, Northside ISD

"I've felt extremely overwhelmed with school having to move online so quickly as well as watching the pandemic and civil unrest unfold and the killing of these innocent lives. But I hope that our voices will be heard, and it will bring some light to the situation."
- Clarissa Tavera, junior, San Antonio ISD

"Touching on the topics of civil unrest and immigration, I feel like these topics should be openly talked about in school, considering in my particular environment there are many minorities affected by civil unrest and immigration."
- Juliana Cruz, senior, Dallas ISD

"Along with civil unrest, I believe students should be spearheading efforts to reform school policing policy."
- Melanie Harrell, recent graduate, San Antonio ISD

"I try to focus on being grateful that, though it sadly had to come through violence or talking extreme measures to get lawmakers' attention, we are making change. And I am part of that generation making change."
- Dejia Nunn, sophomore, Judson ISD
School Reopening 
Webinar Series
See our COVID-19 resource for education web hub with free webinar series, school resources and 
policy updates.
July 8, 2020
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.