As a passionate advocate for my children, one who is school aged and one who will likely attend IPS one day, I hope district leaders continue to take steps to make our district equitable. Because of my hopes, I took a stand at the September board action session.
First, when it comes to the referendum dollars, we must have equity. We must ensure every dollar we receive is going to the children in need, and we know that some school types have not gotten operating dollars from the referendum. Referendum dollars are a way for our schools to keep quality teachers to educate our students. Quality teachers mean our students have a better chance of success, and that we are attracting the best. Referendum dollars could also be used to hire more staff who can adequately account for the trauma and gaps the pandemic may have caused in students across the district. We know that COVID-19 has brought us unpredictable times. So, we have no full measurement on how it’s truly affected our students. It is crucial we prepare for the blowback. Parents have been raising this issue for many months. The time is now for IPS leaders to act and ensure the referendum funds are supporting all kids in the IPS family of schools.
I also want to make sure all schools have the adequate number of staff available, for instance nurses. I have heard that some schools must share nurses. This is concerning because we are currently in a deadly pandemic. This must change.
The next issue I’d like to tackle is replication of good school models. If it works, why not use it as a model for other schools as well? It all goes back to funding because if schools don’t have the funds to create similar programs and resources at their school, this will have the same failing result. So, I ask the board to investigate what some schools with great results are doing and recommend those to others and help them put it in place.
Lastly, I want to reinforce a topic that I spoke on earlier in the year. There is a high rate of discipline disparities, poor test scores, and decreasing graduation rates in schools that serve Black and Brown students. Again, although my daughter does well in school, the discipline disparities in this district worry me. I hope they change before my son ever steps foot in an IPS school because this is the start of the school-to-prison pipeline. If a kid comes from a troubled household, they will bring it to school. That kid needs help, not handcuffs. We need to put more energy behind addressing the root causes of the behavior and not just the symptoms.
I hope you want what I want and what many IPS parents want: to make sure all IPS kids are provided with the supports and resources they need to give them the best education possible. I know this mission is possible because some schools in Indianapolis, both in IPS and outside of this district, are seeing Black and Brown students do just as well as others.
I encourage the board to partner with parents like me and help us help this district become more just and equitable.
If you read this and agree with me, please email IPS leaders now. It would mean a lot to me.