On February 7, a group of public school parents unveiled their petition calling for Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) to grow proven models from all school types, including local charter schools. The petition led by parents garnered more than 1,000 signatures, showcasing strong community support for district leaders to develop a strategy that will close the opportunity gap by scaling the top performing schools for Black and Brown students.

Watch the full event below:

Yesterday, advocates delivered a petition to IPS leaders. In total, over 1,000 community members in IPS ZIP codes signed this call for district leaders to develop a specific plan to grow the best schools for Black and Brown students according to state assessment data. And we had a great crowd of parents on hand to deliver the petition at the IPS headquarters to four IPS commissioners who attended the event.

While yesterday’s event was great, it’s the advocacy ahead that will ultimately lead to action by IPS leaders.  That’s why I’m asking you to take two minutes to send an email to IPS board members.  Closing the opportunity gap in Indianapolis Public Schools must be a top priority for education leaders.

There is strength in numbers, and we are truly better when we advocate together.

Check out some of the press coverage from yesterday below:

All children are capable of amazing achievement in the classroom. It comes down to the opportunities provided by our public education system.

Over the past few months, parents launched a petition calling on IPS leaders to create a plan to systematically grow public school programs that are closing the opportunity gap and showing evidence of sustained success for Black and Brown students. The petition ended up with more than 1,000 signatures within IPS! We want you to be a part of a press event where the community will present these signatures to IPS board members and the superintendent.

Únete a los padres que entregan una petición a los dirigentes del IPS

En los últimos meses, los padres lanzaron una petición pidiendo a los líderes del IPS crear un plan para hacer crecer sistemáticamente los programas de las escuelas públicas que están cerrando la brecha de oportunidades y mostrando evidencia de éxito sostenido para los estudiantes negros y marrones. ¡La petición terminó con más de 1,000 firmas dentro de IPS! Queremos que usted sea parte de un evento de prensa donde la comunidad presentará estas firmas a los miembros de la junta de IPS y al superintendente.

Vin rejwenn paran yo pou remèt yon petisyon bay dirijan IPS yo

Pandan dènye mwa ki sot pase la yo, paran yo te lanse yon petisyon pou mande dirijan IPS yo pou yo ta mete sou pye yon plan ki chita sou metòd ak prensip ki byen òganize pou devlope pwogram lekòl piblik yo yon fason pou bouche twou vid ki genyen nan òpòtinite yo epi ki montre aklè prèv siksè ki ka dire lontan pou elèv ki nwa ak elèv koulè jòn fonse yo. Petisyon an te fini ak plis pase 1,000 siyati pou IPS! Nou ta renmen ou vin patisipe nan yon evenman pou laprès kote kominote a pral prezante tout siyati sa yo ak manm konsèy IPS la epi ak moun k’ap deside anlè nan nivo ki pi wo nan sistèm lan.

For years now, I’ve advocated that kids in every neighborhood have access to a great school. I’ve advocated for failing schools to model after successful ones that close the opportunity or achievement gap because I know all too well the gaps that exist in many of our schools.

This January, I testified at the State Board of Education meeting because I want to see that change and because I believe it is important to keep our state’s A-F letter grades and relaunch an accountability system that puts the proper focus on closing unjust opportunity gaps.

WATCH MY TESTIMONY HERE:

READ MY SPEECH

I would like to thank Secretary Jenner and the State Board of Education for the opportunity to speak today. My name is LaToya Tahirou. I have 3 beautiful children, two are school-aged and one has graduated.

For years now, I’ve advocated that kids in every neighborhood have access to a great school. I’ve advocated for failing schools to model after successful ones that close the opportunity or achievement gap because I know all too well the gaps that exist in many of our schools.

I am here today because I want to see that change and because I believe it is important to keep our state’s A-F letter grades and relaunch an accountability system that puts the proper focus on closing unjust opportunity gaps. A-F grades for schools and districts are a system people know, and these grades, when they meant something, helped parents like me choose our schools, as well as advocate for positive changes in our struggling schools. It provides a sense of urgency around the schools that need more supports and resources and our children receiving a great education is urgent.

The quality education my children do or do not receive is a catalyst for them to have a better life.

Consider single-parent households, consider the kids who come from great disparities, and consider families who do not speak English before you consider moving forward with an accountability system. People who live in struggling communities are already bogged down with life’s struggles. These families need a simplified system – that’s why A – F grades in school accountability are important.

I remember sitting in a board room, not unlike this one, when my oldest daughter was still in elementary school. I sat there crying as they told me that the school she was attending, a school I was at one time excited for her to attend, had been failing for years.

As they read their statistics, I felt hopeless – she had already been in several schools—all in an effort to find the right fit for her. But I knew that my voice mattered in making positive change. I also knew that the school was in transition. A model was put in place to help turn the school around.

I learned about our A-F grading system around this time and it was a driver for the change I would continue to advocate for.

Since that meeting, I’ve spoken at too many press conferences and school board meetings to count. I’ve advocated for high-quality schools in every corner of my community in every way I know how. I was able to place my two youngest children in a school that is the right fit for them – a school doing a much better job of closing opportunity gaps compared to the other schools around us.

As you work to revamp the current system that has been stuck in giving out null-grades, I hope there are no plans to abolish the A-F system. Instead, I would like to see it improved. I would like to see more transparency around the data that determines the letter grade. I would like to see opportunity gap data count toward a school’s grade.

Parents need to know how schools are doing.

Thank you.

I spoke at the IPS board meeting in December because I want to see the IPS board create a values statement that details how IPS can deepen and strengthen partnerships with our public charter schools. We are so much stronger when we work together.

WATCH MY TESTIMONY HERE:

READ WHAT I ASKED IPS LEADERS

Good evening Superintendent Johnson and IPS board members,

My name is Dontia Dyson and I am an IPS father. My son attends Matchbook Learning and is in kindergarten. My youngest son will attend the same school when he is of age.  My daughter previously attended this school as well as Longfellow –she is now in high school.

I have stood at this podium several times over the past few years. At times I have advocated for our innovation schools to have equitable funding. Other times, I have advocated for you to grow schools that are closing the opportunity gap. I have advocated for more funding and resources for SPED students and staff.

I am here tonight with a request that I think touches nearly everything I have ever advocated for – something I know many parents are asking you to consider.

I see that this district is doing some excellent and innovative things – I see many of our public charter schools doing the same – and I want to see this board create a values statement that details how IPS can deepen and strengthen partnerships with our public charter schools. We are so much stronger when we work together.

It shouldn’t be public charter schools versus IPS schools. At the end of the day—what truly matters is that every student in Indianapolis gets a great education –gets an equitable education. The debate over public school type is causing friction where there needs to be collaboration.

I understand attempts to partner have had bumps in the road at times – but I also think we need to put the past in the past. We need to do whatever it takes to move forward. We must reconcile for the sake of the kids.

We should all be striving to ensure every school is a great place for our kids. We should all want to learn from schools that are doing great things—closing opportunity gaps –and providing a world-class curriculum for our students. We should all want to learn from the school doing the best for our SPED students and ELL students –regardless of the school type. We should be partnering with, growing and learning from schools that are closing the opportunity gaps.

We truly are better when we work together. Please create a statement that spells out how IPS plans to strengthen our partnerships with public charter schools.

Thank you.

One of my favorite things about the holiday season is witnessing the power of believing. Whether it’s a child’s joy from their belief in the magic that comes with this time of year, or a parent’s focus on the hope of what the New Year will bring – there’s a belief that powers us.

But when we don’t believe – in each other or in ourselves – it can drain us and make it hard to find hope. I was a parent who didn’t believe in my ability to advocate and make a difference.

I knew my kids were not getting what they needed in their schools, but I didn’t think I was educated enough or the right person to push for changes. I didn’t know the power of my personal story. But those days are over thanks to my hard work and the support of Stand for Children Indiana.   

Thanks to the training, coaching and compassion of my “Stand family,” I believe I am more than enough to lead the change I seek in our schools and community. I have made advocacy a top priority, and we’re seeing critical improvements by pushing the system to truly put kids first.   

As this year comes to a close, please consider making a tax-deductible donation. It is through donations that Stand Indiana is able to help parents like me believe in the innate power and gifts we hold inside ourselves to stand up and push for more just and equitable public schools.

If you’re unable to donate but have two minutes, please consider posting this donation page to social media: https://donate.stand.org/a/c3-iN

I hope you have a warm and peaceful holiday season and a Happy New Year.

When you fight for justice and equity in education, it’s easy to focus on what’s next, because there’s always a critical issue to tackle and more advocacy to be done.  

But let’s not head into 2024 without reflecting on the remarkable work done this year by you and other Stand for Children advocates. Whether you joined us for a celebration or workshop, used your voice to speak at the statehouse, took an online action of any kind or made a donation – you contributed to some major changes that will spark better outcomes for children in Indy and across our state.    

This year, because of advocates like you:  

  • Stand helped usher in a new era for how literacy is taught in Indiana, which should result in thousands of struggling readers getting the instruction and support they need to accelerate their learning.  
  • After decades of thousands of children missing out on the chance to earn a scholarship to support their college dreams, Stand successfully pushed for changes to state law that will make the 21st Century Scholarship enrollment process truly automatic for eligible students.  
  • We led the charge on a bill to help eliminate unjust fees and costs for parents and children in the youth justice system, which is already working to ensure low-income families aren’t held back by court oversight when they simply can’t afford to pay.    
  • And we worked alongside our valued partners to push back when IPS attempted to move forward with a referendum that would have dramatically increased a huge funding gap impacting public schools in our city that serve some of our highest need students. The campaign led by Stand parent advocates resulted IPS tabling the inequitable funding plan, which enabled state action to ensure future referendums are shared equitably among all public schools in IPS.   

None of these wins for kids in our community would be possible without you. I’m so grateful for your support and can’t wait for the work ahead in 2024.  

Let’s keep the momentum rolling into the New Year. Please consider making a donation to Stand to help us build this movement for justice and equity in our public schools. 

On this #GivingTuesday, please take two minutes to support the courageous parents, teachers and youth who are using their voices to fight for more just and equitable public schools in our community.                  

As a 100% donor-supported organization, we rely on allies like you to offer the leadership training and educational programming focused on helping historically underserved communities to be the change-makers our children need. Will you donate to support our work in 2023?

Every dollar raised is invested in:  

  • Providing families with training and resources to use their voices to champion better educational opportunities for kids.   
  • Pushing for equitable policies focused on closing the opportunity gap in our schools.
  • Ensuring the changes we fight for reach classrooms and directly support students.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

We have a lot to accomplish together!

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

Your gift provides families with training and resources to use their voices for change. If you’re able to this #GivingTuesday, I recommend a donation to Stand for Children Indiana: https://donate.stand.org/a/c3-in-givingtuesday  If you’re not able, please share my post!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

I know firsthand what is on the other side of not getting a great education that sets you up for success. I know what it is to work multiple jobs and still struggle to pay bills. I know how hard it was to get my life back on track.


I went to an IPS high school, and I dropped out my junior year. I went down a path in the name of survival but eventually found my way back to solid ground. I went back to school and received my diploma after my daughter was born. It was both incredibly hard and incredibly rewarding.

My daughter is now an IPS student.

As a parent, I want to see the opportunity gap close in IPS because I want my daughter to have a better life than I had. I don’t want her to struggle—to have to work as hard. I want her to be more successful at a younger age. I want her to graduate with a great education and go on to fulfill her dreams.

But more than just for my daughter, I believe that all kids in the IPS district deserve an equitable education.

There are schools here in Indianapolis that are doing a better job of closing opportunity gaps and I hope IPS will look at those examples and decide to partner with them or grow their models.

If we don’t close this gap, we are handing our kids right on over to the streets. We are inviting the school-to-prison pipeline. Closing the opportunity gaps in the IPS district would not only help end the cycle of poverty, but it would also help our community thrive. Closing the opportunity gap gives our children something incredible. It gives our children and our community hope.

If you also want IPS to close the opportunity gap by growing proven schools, please join me and add your name to this petition before it closes.

All children are capable of amazing achievement in the classroom. It comes down to the opportunities provided by our public education system.

As a parent and a community member who loves this city and cares about the kids in Indianapolis, I decided to speak at the IPS Action Session in October. I shared my story with IPS leaders. I asked them to grow the schools that work, schools like the one my son attends. I know that by partnering with the programs that work, opportunity gaps can be closed.

Watch what I asked IPS leaders:

Read my speech

Good Evening IPS board and Superintendent Dr. Johnson,

My name is Cristal Salgado, and I am a community member who loves this city and cares about the kids in Indianapolis. I heard that tonight you’ll be sharing school performance data – I hope that includes talking about the schools in our city that are closing the opportunity gap. I think sharing this data proves there are people in this room who believe there can be a change. I also believe there can be a change, so I want to thank you and say I hope you use this data to grow schools that are getting equitable results for kids.

My son is now in the 8th grade and attends a charter – one of the school models that is doing a better job of closing the opportunity gap compared to most in Marion County. Most of the kids at his school live in the IPS district.

Before he attended the school he does now, when my son was in the 6th grade and the beginning of 7th grade, he was bullied. He was struggling with his homework and falling behind. I tried to talk to his school and teachers several times. I did everything I knew and when nothing worked, I decided to change his school.

Now my son is doing well. He is more confident. He gets his schoolwork done. He’s talking about college for the first time ever. He’s thinking about his future and has hope for his future. This is the type of education I think all our kids deserve.

I drive my son 30 minutes to school and 30 minutes back from school every day. I know not all parents can do this – which is why I hope to see this district grow the schools that are closing the opportunity gap. When I see that only 5.4% of Black students and 8.3% of Latino students in this district passed both sections of the ILEARN, it makes my heart hurt. It is so sad to hear these numbers knowing my son’s experience and how different it could be. I know that by partnering with the programs that work, opportunity gaps can be closed. Thank you for taking the time to listen to me.