I am an Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) parent and my family immigrated here from Nigeria. Overall, my experience in IPS has been a good one, but I do still see changes that need to be made, which is why I joined a group of parents to draft a vision for a more equitable district. Not only did we meet for months and share our thoughts with district with leaders, but we gathered more than 1,200 signatures to support our cause.
It was a lot of work, but it was necessary because we want the leaders of the district to take a deeper look at the parent vision for a more just and equitable IPS and continue to move the district forward. I am specifically hoping IPS leaders will work to fund schools equitably and make sure families experience language justice.
Although I am happy about the innovation schools and various school choices available in our district, I realized that not all schools receive fair funding. This is an equity issue. Both traditional and Innovation school children should benefit from referendum dollars because all children in the district are IPS students. Most immigrant parents do not know the options of schools available in the district. In fact, I would not know what I know about innovation schools if I was not a part of the Just and Equitable Parent Committee. I would guess most immigrant parents who send their children to an innovation school don’t realize their children did not benefit from the referendum that was passed.
We have a lot of immigrant families in this district and their children face challenges. It’s important that the IPS board address what barriers they face so that these families can be supported. Beyond sharing the referendum dollars with all schools, I want to see this district pass a language justice policy so that we can all become more inclusive of the families who are learning English.
I know of an immigrant parent whose child was given the exam for high ability and was recommended to go to the high ability school, but didn’t have the knowledge to take advantage. It is sad that the child has missed out on an opportunity because that parent faced a language barrier and did not know how to enroll their child in the high ability school. Immigrant and ELL families are missing out on opportunities because the district does not effectively communicate options of school choices with these families. They just send their child to the school closest to them in the district because they don’t know what options they have.
If your language is left out, you feel unimportant. I’ve seen the eyes of people in this district who look frustrated and lost, which is why I was glad that the June board meeting had some forms of translation.
Language justice gives parents like me the opportunity to express our thoughts and opinions and to be engaged in our children’s learning. What non-English speaking families have to say could be the things that propel our district forward. Language justice creates fairness and opportunity for great development of our students and our environment. I know it is a challenge, but I hope IPS leaders will continue to partner with parents and take steps that help IPS families, our immigrant families and non-English speaking families. Please take a stand with me and email IPS leaders today.