As we witness the constant and relentless attacks on our local public school system and our school superintendent, we must take a historic look and a panoramic view of Indianapolis history to understand how the Indianapolis Public Schools have come to be known as a “dropout factory.”
The continuous influx and barrage of negative publicity that we see today was set in motion some 40 years ago.
United States District Court Judge S. Hugh Dillon’s busing order in 1973, former Mayor Richard Lugar’s grand scheme of Unigov, and the elections of our current governor and state superintendent of public instruction, all lead us to where we are today.
In 1973, Judge Dillon ordered the IPS to begin busing students between schools within the district to achieve racial desegregation. He expanded that busing order eight years later by requiring the IPS district to send almost 6,000 Black students a year to six suburban Marion County school districts.
Money was sent along with the bused students. Over the course time, this money was used to build what looks like college campuses at Warren Central High School, Ben Davis High School, and Decatur Central High School, along with new schools in Lawrence and Perry townships. While the suburban schools were building state-of-the-art facilities, such as freshman centers, college-like football fields, and new add-ons to current buildings over the 40-year time period, using part of the money they received to educate IPS students, the IPS system was closing schools, laying off teachers, and seeing a decline in enrollment while giving the appearance of being a failure.
Also, the suburban schools like Ben Davis and Warren Central high schools began to win state championships in all of the sporting events, while IPS programs saw loosing seasons and eventually cut sports activities at many Indianapolis Public Schools. Does anyone remember the powerhouse football teams of the Tech Titans in the 1960s and the Broad Ripple Rockets in the 1980s? Those days seem like ancient history.
Mayor Lugar’s plan of Unigov, which consolidated many city and county services but not schools, further eroded the power of influence of the inner city, along with the public school system. He divided the pie even further, to ensure that the balance of power remained in the hands of a few and to ensure that the residents of Center Township of Marion County would not be the voice of the future. How is it that the towns of Beech Groove, Lawrence, Southport, and Speedway can vote for the mayor of Indianapolis, but we can’t vote for their mayor? What are the demographics of those areas compared to those in Center Township? Isn’t it interesting that these wise men were planning for what you see today 40-years ago?
Fast-forward to today, where you have the local mayor approving charter schools like 70 going west, a governor that is cutting education funding to IPS, the largest school district in the state, and a state superintendent that is threatening a state takeover of the IPS district and refusing to apply for the $4 billion federal Race to the Top educaton funds.
Along with the history lesson from above, include the closing of neighborhood schools, neighborhood parks and swimming pools, and the impending closing of neighborhood libraries, the future of that neighborhood is in peril and the local residents who do not have the means to leave (re: New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina) are the ones left to suffer and perish.
Similar to the Patriots in the American Revolution, it’s time for the locals, the citizens, the ordinary people, and the underrepresented to rise up, stand up, and fight for the right to repair, improve, uplift, and control their own destiny, their own community and the conditions of their future generations. This must be done by the means set forth in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution…the right of the people to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
For comments or questions, contact Leroy Robinson at: 317-502-0272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.