I spoke to district leaders at the IPS action session on August 26. Below is what I told them. After you read why I’m advocating for a more just and equitable IPS, I hope you’ll join me and email IPS leaders today.
School is our kids’ first experience with a community in which they can have a true impact, independent from us as parents and caregivers. It’s where our kids begin to put trust in people other than their families. It’s this school community that helps to shape them, helps them to know their value and gain, hopefully, a sense of worth and belonging.
They’ll carry their experiences out into the wider world as adults, building their own communities at work, in their neighborhoods, in their cities, their states, in our country. I think about this a lot. There are so many things that I want my sons to understand about community and their place in it. I want my kids to be leaders, yes, but I also want them to have experiences that teach them when and how to step aside and follow. I want them to know that their needs and interests have value, but I also want them to have a deep understanding of their privilege and their responsibility to support and amplify the needs and interests of others. I want them to value equality of opportunity, but more importantly, I want them to understand what equity means and embrace it as a guiding principle.
These are only some of the reasons I was one of the more than 1,200 parents who signed the “Parent Vision for a More Just and Equitable IPS” petition, in which we asked IPS leaders to set a goal to increase the ILEARN pass rate for Black and Latino students to 22% by 2027. The IPS board surpassed our expectations by committing to increase the ILEARN assessment pass rate to 50% for all students by the year 2025 – and I am grateful. This kind of measurable goal provides accountability to all our students and families. It is a step forward in realizing racial equity in our schools.
It is obvious that our deepest concerns and desires for our kids are that of IPS leaders as well. I’m eager to see the ways in which they address our other requests in their work moving forward. Specifically, I would like to see how the board works toward the equitable funding of schools. Of pressing concern is ensuring the equitable distribution of referendum funding to students and schools who’ve endured the hardest hits and most lasting impacts of the pandemic.
Additionally, the disciplinary action taken in our schools must be restorative and empowering, not punitive, isolating, and diminishing. We’ve asked that IPS leaders take a deeper look at discipline disparities in our schools and the role that on-campus police may play in feeding the school-to-prison pipeline. Our students – our children – must be given every opportunity to understand their value to this community.
We have an opportunity in our schools to teach our children what true community is, what justice is, and what equity is. To teach them what and who we value. And that we value them.
I’m grateful that the board is listening to parents and has taken such bold action on behalf of our students. I hope they will take additional steps and work to equitably fund our schools and ensure discipline disparities are significantly reduced.
If you agree, please join me and email IPS leaders today.