I asked IPS leaders to seek more input on the language justice plan

I strongly believe that for any plan to succeed, it must consider the feedback of the people it is meant to help, which is why I spoke at the IPS board meeting last night. I thanked IPS leaders and also asked them to seek more parental input, especially from our ESL parents in IPS, as they produce the final plan.

Read my speech or watch the video of it below:

Read my speech

Good evening Superintendent Johnson and IPS board members,

My name is Mary Bova and I am an ELL teacher in Indianapolis. I am here tonight because I am grateful that this district voted to support the production of a language justice plan back in December and I want to see that plan be as strong and as beneficial as possible to our ELL students and families.

I strongly believe that for any plan to succeed, it must consider the feedback of the people it is meant to help, so I am also here to ask you to seek more parental input, especially from our ELL parents in IPS, as you produce this final plan.

Without feedback, we don’t know what our families want or need or get the full picture of what it really means to be an ELL student or parent. Without feedback, the plan won’t account for the entire spectrum of English Language Learning students – from students who are fully bilingual and born here to our newcomers. Without feedback, you might not see what I see in my ELL students every day — that they are the hardest-working and most dedicated people I know.

From my experience as a teacher, I know ESL parents want to be involved, but without equitable language access, they are dependent on receiving information regarding their children’s lives at school from their children and are often at the mercy of an unjust system.

I have seen our ELL families be ignored and go unheard, which is one reason I realize gathering this feedback won’t be easy. But if this district truly wants to be inclusive, I believe being intentional about gathering feedback for a language justice plan will show our families that this is something different from their previous experience. As the district considers how to gather feedback, please also consider the families who are afraid to speak up, the families who may fear being deported, and the families who have no access to technology or the internet. As I said, there are going to be obstacles to making connections with some of these families, but I truly believe this plan can offer great, positive change that helps IPS ELL families feel included and ELL students be supported.

Language Justice for me means that all students are seen. It means that parents and students have equitable opportunities to succeed in the classroom. It means ensuring students aren’t repeating classes they do not need to repeat due to communication issues. With a great plan for language justice, instances that overcrowd classrooms and put ELL students at a disadvantage could be avoided.

Thank you so much for voting to produce a language justice plan in December. I hope to see this board vote on the final plan once it is produced and includes critical feedback from the very families it is meant to help.