Stand for Children Indiana

PARENTS DELIVER PETITION SIGNED BY MORE THAN 1,200 RESIDENTS ENDORSING THEIR VISION FOR A MORE EQUITABLE

IPSFamilies express gratitude for actions taken by IPS while promoting additional steps needed to achieve equity and achievement goals

A group of parents delivered a petition today to Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) leaders calling for greater equity and increasing student achievement, especially for Black and Brown students. Over the last three months, parents have gathered more than 1,200 signatures from residents living in ZIP codes connected to IPS endorsing recommendations submitted to IPS leaders this spring.

“These 1,200 signatures indicate that there is a unified voice in our city declaring that we are acting on one accord to create a more just and equitable school system,” said Rachel Wright, an IPS mother.

In March, the same group of parents released their vision for how IPS can dramatically increase achievement for Black and Brown students and ensure greater equity across the district’s family of schools. The document — “A Parent Vision for a More Just and Equitable IPS” — contains several recommendations aimed at addressing generations-old systemic racism, which is having a significant impact on educational opportunity for children of color.

According to 2019 data from the Indiana Department of Education, only 7% of Black students and 11% of Latino students passed both the English and math sections of the state’s ILEARN exam. This compares with 32% of white students reaching that benchmark. The gap in student proficiency between students of different races is known as the “opportunity gap.” Urgency for action is even greater, as ILEARN scores released two weeks ago for the 2021 school year show scores overall dramatically dropping due to disruptions caused by the pandemic.

At the press conference, parents affiliated with Stand for Children Indiana shared their optimism and thanks to IPS leaders for passing bold board goals for students of color in June aimed at closing that opportunity gap —  goals that parents requested in their March document. But they also asked IPS leaders to continue the critical work needed to dramatically improve academic outcomes, especially for those furthest from opportunity.

Specifically, parent advocates highlighted their recommendations to:

  1. Grow schools and models that are data proven to dramatically improve results for kids of color;
  2. Ensure all schools in the IPS family are funded equitably and referendum dollars are shared with schools of all types;
  3. Dramatically increase the number of teachers of color;
  4. Implement language justice practices in every school to support non-English speaking families; and
  5. End discipline disparities and thoroughly reviewing the role of police in schools to determine if they are contributing to the school-to-prison pipeline.

During today’s event, parents spoke to the fact that some schools in IPS are still not benefitting from operating dollars from the public referendum passed by voters in 2018.

“We should be prioritizing the youth who are in most need and include schools of all types in the IPS family when it comes to referendum dollars,” said Wright. “Where our heart is, where we invest our treasure and where we invest referendum dollars is a reflection of where our priorities lay as a community.”

Speaking to equity issues, parents also noted that language differences are a driver of academic gaps, and more must be done to ensure non-native English-speaking students are getting the support they need.

“For me to be engaged, and for other parents like me to be engaged, we have to do double the work compared to an English-speaking parent,” said IPS parent Irma Perdomo. “Communicating with teachers is challenging. The simple task of calling our child in sick can be a frustrating process. And more importantly, our ability to help and advocate for our children is diminished when we can’t understand homework or communicate effectively with teachers and principals.” 

Parents who spoke at the news conference asked for IPS leaders and the Board of School Commissioners to implement their recommendations by passing board policies and updating the district’s strategic plan.

“I am grateful for Superintendent Aleesia Johnson,” said LaToya Hale-Tahirou. “I believe the district has made some great strides to dismantling this ugly narrative that is racism under her leadership.  I also want to thank the IPS Board of School Commissioners. I appreciate that they listened to parents and community members like me and passed bold goals for Black and Brown children achievement during the June Action Session.”

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