Parents applaud IPS’ focus on school autonomy, enrollment

Access to High-Quality Schools | 08/27/2015

Kate Shepherd
Marketing and Communications Director

Kate Shepherd is the Marketing and Communications Director for Stand for Children Indiana.

IPS parent members of Stand for Children Indiana were pleased to see many of the recommendations from their "Every Child, Every Neighborhood" vision included in the Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) strategic plan unveiled online today.

Parents applauded district goals focused on establishing true school autonomy and partnering with charter operators to create a unified enrollment system, which would give more parents greater access to quality schools. Stand parent members also shared feedback with IPS expressing concerns about the strategic plan’s lack details around attracting and retaining the best teachers.

“We are excited to see that IPS is committing to giving principals more freedoms to make decisions for their schools that benefit our children,” said IPS School 103 parent Cynecqua Goodridge.  “I was also pleased to see the creation of a one-stop shop for school enrollment and information about school options in the plan.”

IPS School 93 parent Eugenia Murry said that given IPS’ well-documented struggles to hire and retain quality educators, she wanted to see the plan more focused on that critical issue.

“The most important factor in improving our children’s education in the classroom is quality teaching,” said Murry. “There were some attempts to help make that happen in the IPS plan, but we think this area needs more work. The district is in the midst of a teacher shortage and needs to take big steps to address that.”

Murry and Goodridge both praised IPS’ strong commitment to family engagement and advocacy in the district’s strategic plan. Stand Indiana offers a family engagement program in IPS to help parents and other family members learn important tools and strategies to be more meaningfully involved in improving their students’ academic performance.

Stand Indiana has provided detailed feedback to IPS on the strategic plan. A summary of that feedback appears below:  

Goals consistent Stand parent recommendations:

  1. Common enrollment:  Parents requested more details, but are excited to see IPS’ commitment to streamlining enrollment.
  2. Pupil-based funding: The move to equity and transparency in funding is important and consistent with empowering principals.
  3. School autonomy: Increasing building-level freedoms and limiting district mandates is an important factor in empowering principals and attracting school leaders.

 Requests made by Stand parents not fully addressed in the plan:

  1. Using student surveys as part of teacher evaluation: While measuring student perceptions was called out in the IPS plan, there was no mention of tying those surveys to teacher evaluation.
  2. No detailed talent strategy: Improving teacher recruitment was mentioned in the plan, but parents have called for and still want to see a detailed plan to create a teacher talent pipeline.

In April, Murry and Goodridge joined dozens of IPS parents and stakeholders to present the parent-led vision, “Every Child, Every Neighborhood,” to IPS Superintendent Dr. Lewis Ferebee and the IPS board. Parents then followed up this presentation by working over the summer to gather 1,000 signatures of support for their recommendations for improving IPS.  Those signatures were delivered to district leaders in June. 

IPS will be holding a series of upcoming events to launch the new strategic plan to the public.

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  • I was unable to participate as I had planned, but I am very excited to see progress has been made in planning and making known the expectations of parents of our children in the IPS system. Kudos to all of you who who participated and stuck with your convictions to see that your voices were heard!
    Gwendolyn M Williams

    September 2, 2015 6:54 PM