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March 23, 2022 Edition
When schools closed due to COVID-19, IDRA immediately responded to educators and families so students could continue learning. We launched Learning Goes On to provide materials, webinars, and other information and resources. This work continues because, although the closures have ended, educators and students are still facing its impact.
In This Issue
Realizing Our Common Humanity – Restorative Practices Can Build and Strengthen Relationships in Post-Pandemic Schools 

Building Supportive Schools from the Ground Up

Women’s History is U.S. History  

New Colassnotes Podcast Episodes

What do you think about school dress codes?

More resources and training for teachers, school administrators, families and communities are on our Learning Goes On website. See Spanish-language version of this edition.
Education Practice
Realizing Our Common Humanity –
Restorative Practices Can Build and Strengthen Relationships in Post-Pandemic Schools  
By Paige Duggins-Clay, J.D.
A foundational belief of restorative justice in education is that all human beings are worthy and interconnected. This principle can be found in many indigenous and African traditions.

One representative example is the concept of ubuntu developed and maintained by many South African communities. As legendary civil rights lawyer and community activist Fania Davis has explained, ubuntu flows from the Nguni proverb, “Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu, which translates as “I am because we are, and we are because I am.”

The proverb expresses a universal African core belief that “the individual exists only in relationship to the collective.” The expression has also been translated to mean “A person is a person through their relationships,” further emphasizing our need to build strong communities with one another, along with the corollary responsibility to care for one another and the community we co-create. This ethos can be found in other cultural and faith traditions making up the mosaic of identities represented in our public schools.

Translating this philosophy into practice is both challenging and necessary, particularly as our students, parents and educators work to rebuild, heal and strengthen relationships damaged by the isolation and disconnection of the pandemic. The social and physical isolation resulting from the pandemic created significant obstacles to building connections and relationships in and outside of schools that require thoughtfulness and intentionality to redress. And as students and educators continue to return to in-person communities with each other, now is the time to invest in proactive restorative practices that strengthen community by building relationships.

As Gabriel Velez suggests, “While restorative justice may not be primarily therapeutic in nature and its application in schools is not directly framed as social and emotional learning, its focus on relationships, repair and genuine horizontal engagement has the potential to support collective resilience and build key psychosocial skills.” In addition, promoting social and emotional learning as complementary to academic learning has been shown to bolster community and mental health, particularly in relation to self-perception and belonging. Restorative practice, which is a “relational approach to building school climate and addressing student behavior,” provides a framework for restoratively engaging with one another even in the face of individual differences or disagreements. Such practices include community-classroom circles and restorative conferences.

Using the spirit of ubuntu as the starting point for relationship building and responding to incidents of harm inherently responds to these dynamics by recognizing humans’ deep need for connection and community. Rather than distancing from or attempting to minimize an “other,” ubuntu challenges us to center others in our conceptions of ourselves. That means finding ways to recognize the commonalities in our shared experiences and how those experiences are enriched by the diverse cultural backgrounds all students and educators bring to the school community.
Federal Funds Community Report
Building Supportive Schools from the Ground Up
IDRA's report highlights how school districts can use federal funds to invest in strategies that ensure culturally-sustaining schools for all students. The strategies were identified during IDRA’s community sessions with young people, families, advocates and other education experts.
Education Practice
Women’s History is U.S. History 
Lizdelia Piñón, Ed.D., & Stephanie Garcia, Ph.D.
The pandemic has proven to take a huge toll on women from their health to employment and child care demands. Women's History Month is a great time to honor the accomplishments of all those who have worked to make the world a better, more equal place for women. As with other similarly themed months, it is important not to isolate exploration of women’s history and culture into one month during the year.

Women’s history is U.S. history and should be integrated into the curriculum throughout the school year. We consider various ways to encourage students to learn about historical and current women who have made a difference.

Storytelling is a beneficial instructional strategy. It captures students' attention, helps them make connections or relate to historical and current figures, fosters empathy, and broadens perspectives and understandings. One tool to consider using is called StoryCorp. This virtual platform aims to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world. Students of all ages can record interviews with women, create podcasts to discuss historical contributions and more.
Despite all the contributions women have made to STEM, women remain underrepresented in these fields, and their contributions are often overlooked. IDRA has created a Women in STEM infographic to help incorporate historical and hidden figures into the curriculum. For example, Robinne Eller is an entrepreneur who is passionate about supporting girls in STEM and this led to her creating CodeChella and Black Wall St.

Another resource is Unladylike2020 that provides video stories focusing on intrepid women from the turn of the 20th century who managed to break into new professions, step into leadership roles, and fight for suffrage and an end to discrimination. The materials include free lesson plans for middle and high school levels, as well as guides for hosting your own screening, to generate dialog about women in your community. Consider implementing these STEM kits to create equitable learning opportunities in and out of school settings.

From encouraging students to reading literature by women authors to teaching about unsung female scientific pioneers, teachers have the opportunity to uplift women’s contributions, which is vital to building strong citizens of all genders. But cheering on women’s contributions doesn’t need to end when the calendar turns to April! Get inspired and create your project!
New Podcast Episodes
Ways to Listen
National Survey
What do you think about school dress codes?
If you are a parent or caregiver of a current or recent public school student, you can help! The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), an independent, nonpartisan agency of Congress, has been asked to study dress code policies and the enforcement of these policies in public schools.

To help it better understand the impact dress codes can have on students and families, the GAO is asking for volunteers to fill out a short questionnaire if you:
  • Have one or more children currently enrolled in a public school with a dress code or uniform policy; or
  • Had a child or children enrolled in a public school with a dress code or uniform policy as recently as the 2019-20 school year.
The questionnaire should take less than 10 minutes to complete. The deadline is April 15, 2022.
As small but loud factions attack public education, students and families across the U.S. South are pushing back. IDRA’s new Southern Education Equity Network (SEEN) trains and assists communities in improving education policy and practice across the South and provides an online and mobile space for community members and coalitions to coordinate their advocacy.
If you would like to be more involved in the education advocacy work IDRA is doing with students, families, teachers and others with lived expertise, sign up for Georgia Education CAFE Advocacy Network.
With Amazon Smile, you can shop while raising money for a cause you care about! Visit smile.amazon.com and select IDRA as your charity. Thank you for helping IDRA support teachers and families to ensure that Learning Goes On during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond!
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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.