Dontia Dyson

Last legislative session, I was one of many advocates fighting to stop House Bill 1134. I am proud of the effort I put in alongside so many other advocates. Our hard work paid off, but with the 2023 legislative session being just around the corner, I want this next session to be different.   

I want our lawmakers to focus on equity and closing the academic opportunity gap for historically underserved students like mine. I want to continue standing alongside all the advocates who care about Indiana kids and the education they receive. I want us to make positive change together because if last session taught me anything about advocacy, it’s that there’s strength in numbers and together we can make a difference.  

So today, I’m happy to announce the Stand for Children Indiana 2023 education agenda will be centered on feedback from advocates like me.  

Here are some highlights from the survey that was used to craft the below education agenda: 

  • 77% of the people who took the Stand Indiana survey this year said they want our lawmakers to focus on equitable funding for public schools.  
  • Nearly 60% of survey takers want to ensure school curriculum and teaching practices align with scientific research. 
  • 60% of survey takers said they wanted lawmakers to focus on legislation aimed at closing achievement gaps between privileged/underserved students. 
  • 44% believed it should be a top priority to increase the number of young people applying for 21st Century Scholarship. 
    • Only 7% thought the state should take no action regarding the scholarship. 

I hope you’ll continue advocating this year and take a stand for the things listed on the 2023 education agenda:  

  • 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 legislation aimed at increasing the number of young people applying for 21st Century Scholarships.   

Thank you for your continued input and support. Look for more details on all of these issues in the coming weeks, and be sure to follow Stand Indiana on social media for ways you can get your friends involved. 

While I can’t speak for every parent who helped draft the “Parent Vision for a More Just and Equitable IPS” with me, I can tell you that I continue to show up at IPS board meetings because I would like to be hopeful. I want to believe there is a future IPS that is filled with high-quality schools that are proving our kids are capable of being challenged, of not only meeting the standards—but exceeding them. An IPS where all our schools close the opportunity gaps.

I know IPS is planning some big changes and I appreciate those changes includes replication. I want to make sure that by replication, the district plans to grow schools and programs that close the opportunity gap. I don’t believe the choice of which schools to replicate should be based on popularity.

The data parents like me have been requesting is about making sure schools that are replicated are data-proven and working for all kids –including Black and Brown children and low-income children.

The IPS plan does not yet address this. Join me in asking IPS leaders to update their Rebuilding Stronger plan. The measure to replicate schools should not be based on the demand for a school. It should be based on schools of all types that are data-proven to close the opportunity gap.

If the time comes when one of my kids struggles, I want them to be given what they need—the supports to help them. If kids are doing well academically, they grow up to have more options –they grow up to be successful.

I’m passionate about this because our children’s education today is about their futures tomorrow –all our futures tomorrow. Please join me. Ask IPS leaders to grow schools that work, schools of all types that align with their goals to close the opportunity gap, even if they don’t already exist in the district.

One of my children attends IPS and I want to be able to send my son there when he is of age, but I also want to know I can send him to a school that closes the opportunity gap. To me, that is the best way to show we care about these kids and their futures.

The Parent Vision for a More Just and Equitable IPS, which I helped draft, called for the district to grow schools of all types, even ones not currently in the IPS family of schools, that close the opportunity gap.  

In May, I provided the board with copies of over 100 emails from community members and parents like myself. These emails asked IPS leaders to urgently research nearby schools of all types that close the opportunity gaps too many of our schools face and then provide a plan by July to grow those models. We need to do everything we can to partner with schools that close the gap and to learn from the schools where all children are thriving.   

IT’S NOT TOO LATE TO EMAIL IPS LEADERS

The school my oldest son, Marell, now attends is just one example of a school not currently in the district that is closing the gap. I couldn’t be happier or more pleased with his experience at Paramount. They have offered him opportunities he has never had. He even has a job there for the summer. He is thriving. They awarded him as the most improved student. His teachers tell me he is the hardest working SPED student they have. I am beyond proud of him and am affirmed in my choice to send him to Paramount.  

 If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll join me and ask IPS leaders to take action on this parent request with urgency, especially knowing the district could face school consolidations or closures. In my opinion, if there’s a building that can’t be repaired, I hope to see IPS replace that school with a model nearby that can improve the education of children in that neighborhood. We need to make sure any plan to consolidate schools is one that leaves our communities better off.   

JOIN ME, EMAIL IPS LEADERS TODAY