The IPS board is moving fast on a plan to fund the district’s strategic plan, which impacts all of our children and our neighborhoods. The big concern: some schools and children are being unfairly treated in the plan.

The referendum, which would use my tax dollars and yours, would short-change some schools in the IPS network by nearly $1,000 per child. That’s millions of dollars that some schools won’t get. How is this fair? And how can we expect those schools to pay their teachers and prevent them from leaving for jobs in schools that have more money?

Please email the IPS board and ask them to delay any vote on the referendum until the funding is shared equitably.

No plan in our education system should determine winners and losers among our students.

Last Monday, the Indiana General Assembly reconvened for the 2023 legislative session. This year is a budget year, which means the session will be longer than it was in 2022. Over the next four months, lawmakers will create Indiana’s two-year state budget.

Throughout this legislative session, Stand for Children Indiana will be focusing on the issues advocates like you said mattered most:

  • Ensuring our public schools are equitably funded and that the school funding formula considers low-income and traditionally underserved students as well as our SPED and ELL populations.
  • Advocating for our public schools to be equipped with the curriculum and best practices in teaching reading that aligns with scientific research as our state faces a literacy crisis.
  • Supporting the governor’s agenda item to increase the number of young people applying for 21st Century Scholarships.
  • Ending some of the high costs and fees of our juvenile justice system that disproportionately burden low-income families and increase the time youth remain under court supervision.

Thank you for your continued input and support. Look for more details on these issues (and more!) in the coming weeks and be sure to follow Stand Indiana on social media for new ways to get your friends involved.


INDIANAPOLIS – The following statement was issued today by Stand for Children Indiana’s Executive Director Justin Ohlemiller in response to the Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) board of commissioners removing the operating referendum from the meeting agenda tonight:

“We appreciate Superintendent Dr. Aleesia Johnson and the IPS board for removing the referendum from tonight’s agenda. With a major investment like this, which taxpayers will be asked to pay meaningful dollars on the promise of improved opportunities for IPS students, it’s critical that we get this right. That means ensuring the funding is shared to benefit every IPS student equally, no matter what type of school they attend.

“There’s certainly more work ahead to address concerns that have been voiced these last few weeks. That work will hopefully be made easier by giving parents and community partners more time to ask questions and share feedback on the referendum. We look forward to the ongoing discussions between the district, parents, school leaders and community partners. We remain hopeful that changes can be made that will allow our organization to eventually get behind this major investment in IPS. The dialogue over the next few weeks will be crucial.”


About Stand: Stand for Children Indiana is a unique catalyst for education equity and racial justice, to create a brighter future for us all.

INDIANAPOLIS – Parents and community advocates affiliated with local education advocacy organization Stand for Children Indiana are praising district leaders for the language justice policy set to be voted on at the Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) board action session this evening.

Parents have been steadfast in their advocacy surrounding the need for schools to breakdown language barriers that prevent parents and students — especially immigrants— from fully realizing educational opportunity. Parents also raised the need for more cultural competency in IPS, accounting for the unique challenges that come with the immigrant experience. Parents believe this policy is a solid step in the right direction, and they applauded Superintendent Dr. Aleesia Johnson and the IPS board for their commitment to better serving IPS families.

“Parents, including myself, have fought long and hard for a language justice policy,” said IPS parent Ana Delgado. “I am grateful with all my heart that the district took the time to hear our concerns and thoughts. Thank you for listening to us.”

“I truly appreciate IPS leaders for taking this step towards addressing gaps in serving the ELL community,” said Stand for Children Indiana organizer and IPS parent Carolina Figueroa. “I am proud of the community and IPS parents for speaking up and seeking this language justice policy. As long as we keep working together, we will be on the right path to create a more inclusive environment for our immigrant communities. Thank you IPS leaders!”

The policy, if approved, will:

  • Establish that IPS recognizes the impact of language differences and sees language justice as a key part of the district’s DEI values.
  • Set forth a process for IPS to create a plan to move toward language justice, which “is the practice of ensuring people can communicate effectively, understand information, and be understood using the language in which they feel most comfortable,” according to the IPS draft policy.
  • Establish a community taskforce to inform the planning process.
  • Call for annual updates on language justice from the superintendent to the board.


About Stand for Children Indiana: Stand for Children Indiana is a unique catalyst for education equity and racial justice, to create a brighter future for us all.

INDIANAPOLIS – A group of parents, teachers and community advocates affiliated with local education advocacy organization Stand for Children Indiana have sent a letter to IPS Superintendent Dr. Aleesia Johnson and the Board of Commissioners requesting that they delay any action on the $800 million referendum until key questions and concerns can be addressed.

The letter states three clear reasons for delaying the vote:

  1. The district’s strategic plan, which the referendum will fund, still ignores the board’s own goals around Black and Brown student achievement by growing school models that actually feature increasingly large opportunity gaps while leaving out plans to scale data-proven public school models like Paramount.
  2. Innovation schools in IPS will get significantly less money compared to traditional schools, despite being part of IPS and serving district students. The funding gap means non-innovation schools in IPS would receive approximately $1,650 more per student.
  3. The significant tax increase to fund the referendum could have a disproportionate impact on low-income families in IPS – the very communities the district is trying to serve. There needs to be more study on the economic impact the referendum will have on those struggling to make ends meet as inflation remains at historic levels.

The letter also makes clear that the parents, teachers and grandparents who signed want to get to a place of supporting the referendum, provided their concerns are addressed:

“We are supportive of investing in our public schools. We believe in IPS and we want nothing more than this district to become the best in our state when it comes to student achievement,” the letter reads. “Some of us actively supported the 2018 referenda as a part of local advocacy group Stand for Children Indiana, which was the single largest supporter of that initiative. We want to get to a place of supporting this plan too. Our request is simply to slow this process down to allow for the public to appropriately review the referenda proposal and to also allow time to address the concerns we’ve raised . . .”


Stand for Children Indiana is a unique catalyst for education equity and racial justice, to create a brighter future for us all.

Today is #GivingTuesday and we need your support! Will you donate to support our work in 2023? 

Every dollar raised will go towards: 

  • Providing families with training and resources to use their voices for change and to champion their students’ educational opportunities.
  • Ensuring our public schools are equitably funded and historically underserved communities are getting what they need to deliver a high-quality education for all.
  • Advocating to address the literacy gap in our state by ensuring schools and teachers are equipped with curricula and training rooted in evidence-based practices.
  • Supporting efforts to increase access to college and attainment of career credentials in growing sectors of our economy. We know this can happen through increasing the number of young people participating in the 21st Century Scholarship program.

If you’re unable to give but still want to support our work, consider sharing the below on social media today:

Your gift empowers parents to demand that access to a high-quality public education is possible for all. If you’re able this #GivingTuesday, I recommend a donation to Stand for Children Indiana: If you’re not able, please share my post!

We have a lot to accomplish together! Thank you for your support.

As a parent, I know our voices become stronger and can make a positive impact when work together. This year has proven that. 

Last legislative session, over 6,000 of you joined parents like me and asked our legislative leaders to oppose a dangerous bill that would have stifled our children from receiving an accurate education. This year I’ve seen thousands more join this movement in the name of equity and justice for Indiana kids. 

Maybe this year you signed a petition, emailed a school board member or participated in a workshop. Perhaps you donated or volunteered your time. No matter which actions you took, I want to thank you for being part of a movement dedicated to supporting Indiana children and teachers. It’s because of you that parents like me feel comfortable raising our voices. It’s never been more important that we address racial inequity in our schools and ensure all our children receive a high-quality education. 

This work is made possible because of you, and the entire Stand family is so grateful to have you be part of this movement.

We hope you have a healthy, safe and peaceful holiday this week.   

Despite your advocacy, and despite the heroic parent voices who have spent years fighting for IPS to make data-driven decisions focused on closing tragically large opportunity gaps in our schools, the IPS board on Thursday approved a strategic plan that fell well short of what our children need. I know it’s frustrating when it feels like our leaders don’t listen.

Personally, I joined Stand for Children nearly 10 years ago to be an ally to parents of color, who have been underserved and underappreciated for generations when it comes to decisions made by our K-12 public school system. And to have this result, it brought tears to my eyes. Because the parents and advocates at Stand – and especially their children – deserve better.

But as the hours have turned to days, my frustration has transitioned to hope and a strong resolve that the changes parents have been fighting for are still 100% achievable. Here’s why:

  • Parent advocates at Stand are among the best leaders I’ve ever seen. They inspire me every day, and they will inspire IPS leaders to eventually listen and act on their ideas.
  • I believe this IPS board has members who are listening and are committed to evolving this plan in its implementation – especially when it comes to growing the top schools for Black and Brown student achievement.
  • And we will welcome new leaders to the IPS board in January – three amazing women who Stand parents endorsed back in September. All of them expressed opposition to the IPS plan that was approved on Thursday.

Thursday’s vote is disappointing, but it’s important to keep in mind that it’s a moment in time. As Dr. King said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” At the root of advocacy is the belief that things can and will change. My belief in our mission and the advocates I’m blessed to walk alongside has never been stronger. The fight for a more just and equitable IPS – for a district that truly serves the needs of ALL children – is still ahead of us.

Parents affiliated with Stand for Children Indiana spoke against Indianapolis Public Schools’ (IPS) Rebuilding Stronger plan at the district’s Action Session last night.  

 “I am speaking my truth, but I know many other parents, teachers, and community members have told you something similar to what I will — which is that the schools we choose to grow under this plan matter,” said IPS parent LaToya Hale-Tahirou. “And I cannot support your plan unless it includes growing data-proven models that are closing the opportunity gap. You’ve heard this before, but I need to say it again: Paramount has more Black students passing both sections of the state assessment than all IPS direct-run schools combined. I realize your plan mentions a potential partnership now, but it needs to be something more concrete.”  

Parents have been advocating nearly two years for the district to partner with and replicate schools that close the opportunity gap, specifically Paramount Schools of Excellence. Those who addressed the board last night called out the extent of their advocacy and the importance of selecting data-proven schools that work for all children.  

 “Even before this planning process started, many parents like me stood at this podium and made the clear request for IPS to grow models that are data-proven to close the opportunity gap for children who look like mine,” said IPS parent Sherry Holmes. “I’ve lost count of just how many times I’ve spoken in this room, or how many emails I have sent. What I do know is that it wasn’t just me. Many parents – Black and Brown families from across this district – showed up, held meetings with school board members, sent hundreds of emails – all asking for IPS to grow Paramount, one of the best schools in our state for Black and Brown student achievement.”  

As a mom of children who attend the Paramount Online Academy, I am asking the IPS district why they are not expanding this partnership with Paramount to serve more children who look like mine.

Paramount schools are averaging a 44.6% combined ILEARN passing rate for Black students. This is four times better than the state average for Black student proficiency. Despite evidence of Paramount getting solid results for kids of color, the IPS strategic plan does not recommend expanding Paramount. Instead, IPS leaders want to grow a school model that has among the largest opportunity gaps in the state.

Parents like me want IPS to halt their vote on the Rebuilding Stronger plan. They need to consider what is BEST FOR OUR CHILDREN before they move forward in growing a model that does not have a proven track record of success for ALL students.

We need you to add your name to our petition if you agree. The IPS board will vote on this plan soon. It’s so important we have a huge show of support for pausing the plan so IPS does not move forward with a proposal that will not serve all students.