What We've Done
Parent members supported two new candidates in the IPS Board of Commissioners elections. Their wins led to new leadership on the board, and a new superintendent and strategic direction for the district.
Parent volunteers and teachers came together to help support rigorous state standards aligned with Common Core.
Dozens of parent volunteers weighed in on the selection process for the new IPS superintendent. By attending community forums and presenting a letter to the IPS School Board, parents made clear they wanted a superintendent who would proactively improve struggling schools and grant more autonomy to great school leaders. Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee, who was previously the chief of staff for Durham (North Carolina) Public Schools, became the leader of IPS with parent support.
State lawmakers passed a teacher preparation bill supported by Stand for Children Indiana. This legislation laid a strong foundation for transparency and stronger accountability for teacher preparation programs.
Parent members helped win passage of the “Innovation Network Schools” bill. This law gave the IPS Board unprecedented flexibility to dramatically improve low-performing schools.
Parent members knocked on more than 6,500 doors and called roughly 7,000 voters to inform them about the issues and candidates for the IPS Board races. Those efforts helped all three parent-endorsed candidates prevail.
Stand Indiana parent leaders at IPS 93 kicked off a campaign to bring a teacher-led school turnaround model to the struggling school. Their efforts resulted in more than 240 IPS 93 parents signing a petition to support the turnaround model, Project:RESTORE, launching in their school. In the end, the IPS Board agrees and votes in favor of the turnaround plan for the school.
Stand University for Parents (Stand UP), a six-week, research-based family engagement program, was launched in Indianapolis.
Parent members drafted a strategic vision for IPS with recommendations for the future and collected over 1,000 signatures in support of their ideas. Ultimately, many of the recommendations were included in the new IPS strategic plan.
With the backing of parents, IPS 103 on the far eastside was selected as the district’s first innovation school in a partnership with Phalen Leadership Academy. The long struggling school had been rated an “F” by the state the four previous years.
Thanks to parent advocacy, IPS 93 became an innovation school. Project:RESTORE lifted the formerly troubled IPS 93 from an F to an A on the state report card in just two years.
With strong backing from parents, including a dozen parent testimonies in support, the IPS Board approved two new innovation network schools, IPS 44 and IPS 69, to help turn around the chronically failing schools.
Three of four parent-endorsed IPS Board candidates were successfully elected.
With parent support, efforts at the Statehouse to lower the quality of the state’s standardized assessment were defeated.
With support from parents, the district restarted IPS 42 as the innovation school Ignite Achievement Academy.
To address the need for more effective teachers, Stand Indiana successfully backed the passage of state laws that created pilot programs for new teacher residencies and teacher career pathways.
Parents rallied to support IPS’s plan for high school restructuring.
Led by parent volunteers, we continued work to improve IPS, where graduation rates increased from 65% in 2012, to 83% in 2018.
With Stand Indiana’s strong support and direct advocacy of parent members, two crucial referenda passed overwhelmingly that invested more than $270 million in IPS schools. More than 90% of the operating money goes toward teacher salary increases to help IPS become more competitive with surrounding districts.
Stand Indiana parents called for innovation restarts at IPS 14 and IPS 63. These two struggling schools were approved by the IPS School Board and became URBAN ACT Academy at IPS 14 and Matchbook Learning at IPS 63, respectively.
In the IPS Board races, parent volunteers successfully supported District 3 candidate, Evan Hawkins.
In December, Superintendent Ferebee announced he would be leaving IPS to lead a public-school system in Washington, D.C.
As of 2019, IPS has 20 innovation network schools that serve roughly 30% of IPS students. Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) released a study determining that students in these innovation network schools outperformed their traditional public-school peers. Another study from IUPUI was released and found similar results for innovation schools and charter schools in Indianapolis.
After months of strong parent support, Aleesia Johnson is selected as the permanent superintendent of IPS, replacing Dr. Lewis Ferebee who departed for Washington, D.C. Johnson’s promotion made her the first African American woman to lead IPS.
To celebrate the leadership program’s five-year anniversary, the organization graduated its 550th participant from Stand University for Parents.
In partnership with the Indiana State Teachers Association and Teach Plus, Stand Indiana published Addressing Indiana’s Quiet Teaching Crisis, in a push to elevate Indiana’s teaching profession.
Through the approval of three bills and Gov. Eric Holcomb’s plan to use $150 million out of the state’s reserves to assist school systems in paying off their pension liability (in hopes schools would use the extra funds they would have to pay teachers more), Indiana took a step towards solving our state’s teacher crisis. Funding was secured for teacher career ladders ($3.5M) and growing residency programs ($1M) – a total of $4.5 million between the two programs.
Family engagement efforts were expanded to 10 schools annually.
Marking a new and improved leadership training model, 12 parent fellows were announced at the beginning of the school year. Parent fellows will serve as leaders in their respective school communities and empower other parents to become involved in improving public education.
While we started 2020 working to address the opportunity gap between Black and Brown students and their white peers, we quickly shifted our focus to addressing families’ most immediate needs after the pandemic struck. Our efforts included launching a COVID-19 resource hub, implementing a home learning hotline, conducting several virtual and bilingual workshops, advocating to prominent internet providers to urge them to offer truly free at-home Wi-Fi and to end policies requiring payment of past debt before receiving service, delivering food boxes and conducting several welfare check calls to Latino families.
While IPS transitioned to a fully remote model at the start of the school year due to increasing COVID-19 numbers, parents continued to advocate and push the district to improve parent-teacher relationships and increase academic rigor compared to the remote learning that happened in the spring. Over 500 community members signed their letter to the IPS board.
As the horrendous killing of Black people at the hands of law enforcement sparked a national dialogue about racism, we launched a summer reading campaign focused on both keeping kids on track and using daily reading time to discuss race and racism. Over 150 parents took a pledge to read to their kids at least 20 minutes a day. During our book giveaways, the Stand Indiana team passed out 132 books focused on teaching young children the importance of diversity and anti-racism.
Knowing that the inequities that exist in our public education system were more pronounced than ever, we took the local fight regarding the need to invest in our schools to our state senators. Over 3,000 Hoosier educators, school leaders and superintendents signed on to our call for a COVID-19 relief bill that would provide significant funding for home internet and the stabilization of K-12 education budgets.
A group of IPS parents who want to ensure the district focuses on equity surveyed and endorsed four candidates for the IPS school board. Working closely with the candidates and partners like RISE INDY and the Indy Chamber, our parent leaders were proud to be part of an extensive voter outreach effort. Ultimately, the parent voice was heard and all four candidates won seats.