I know that the IPS board’s job is difficult and complex, especially now, but I also know that I’m watching my kids and their classmates grow up together in a system that doesn’t support them all equitably. I hear these statistics about the opportunity gap and it hits me hard.
According to state data, only 3.1% of Black IPS students in grades 3-8 are testing on grade level in English and math, and that number is only 5.4% for Latino students.
To me, these are not only statistics. I know these kids and I want the best for them. They each deserve to live within a system that not only sees the best in them but plans for it and supports it.
We have schools in our city that are already successfully closing the opportunity gap for their students. In fact, there is a public school in Indianapolis where children of color are eight times more likely to achieve at grade level than their peers in our district.
I appreciate that IPS leaders have included replication in the “Rebuilding Stronger” plan, but I don’t think schools should be replicated just because they are popular. Replication should be based on data that shows which schools, regardless of type, close the opportunity gap and not on the demand for a school. Popular programs don’t all necessarily close the opportunity gap.
I have asked the IPS board to consider conducting research in the next month to identify and showcase public schools—charters, innovation schools and traditional schools—that are already closing the opportunity gap in our city.
We need to take swift and clear action to let our students know that we see the best in them. Replicating what’s already working seems to me like a logical place to start and one that could make huge impacts for low-income students and children of color who are being left behind in our current system. As a parent seeing these statistics repeatedly, I can’t stomach the idea of one more school year beginning without a plan in place.
Please join me, ask IPS leaders to replicate school models of all types that are data-proven to close the opportunity gap. Be clear that the measure for replicating a school should not be based on demand alone.