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Friday, January 15, 2021

Time for an intervention for the Ten Point Coalition

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Indy’s Ten Point Coalition is a far cry from the group started here nearly 20 years ago. And it’s totally unlike its namesake, the original Ten Point Coalition of Boston.

Let my words be clear. I have nothing against Indy’s Ten Point Coalition. They’ve done yeoman’s work in the streets trying to reduce violence. But they have allowed themselves to be seen not as they were formed and created. Instead they’ve become the surrogate leadership of our African-American community in the eyes of Mayor Greg Ballard.

Ten Point was brought to Indy in 1997 by then Mayor Steve Goldsmith. Founder Rev. Eugene Rivers had created a faith-based group in Boston to deal with that city’s rising Black youth and young adult violence. At Goldsmith’s invitation, Rivers came to Indy, met with many in our community, and Indy’s Ten Point was born.

Boston’s Ten Point Coalition is still going strong, working to deal with issues of violence with Black and Latino Boston area youth. With a budget of nearly $1 million, seven times the budget of Indy’s Ten Point.

Boston’s Ten Point Coalition aren’t the leaders, nor do they speak for all of Boston’s Black and brown communities. Instead they’re focused on, in their words, “Help(ing) reduce youth violence, both physically and verbally within the Black community by initiating conversations, introspection and reflection on the thoughts and actions that hold us back as a people; individually and collectively.”

While, in my view, Indy’s Ten Point group is still committed to its original goals, they’ve unwisely allowed themselves to be used by the mayor to justify his jihad against Indy’s Black leadership.

In their own words in last week’s Recorder, Ten Point claims “they are a good representation of the Black community because they are composed of various large Black churches in the city.”

I don’t want to get into a counting game with Ten Point, but they know they can’t back that statement about “good representation” up with facts.

Bottom line, Ten Point has allowed themselves to be used by the mayor and his minions as their “go to” Blacks.

Ballard doesn’t need to talk with Black legislators, Black City-County Council members, leaders of mainline religious alliances, or the NAACP, because Ten Point enables him to operate under the fiction of only talking with Black leaders who like/support him.

There comes a time in the Black struggle when even “Toby” told master “No.”

Mayor Ballard’s aversion to meeting with broad based Black leadership was cute his first year; disconcerting by his third year and now in his fifth year in office it’s not only dangerous, it raises questions about how he really feels about our African-American community.

In addiction treatment, there’s a point where you must say “no” to the addict’s dependency.

Unlike every other mayor in the UniGov era, Mayor Greg Ballard is addicted to NOT communicating with the broad based leadership and institutions of America’s 13th largest African-American community.

But Indy’s Ten Point enables Ballard’s behavior.

Well, it’s time for an intervention. It’s time Ten Point tells the mayor “NO,” we won’t let you divide and conquer our community anymore. We’ll meet with you along with other broad based leadership; not just us alone.

Does Indy’s Ten Point Coalition have the will to do what’s right for our community and people and stop the addiction?

What I’m hearing

in the streets

“They were disappointed, but they aren’t discouraged. They are eager and working hard to pass the retest.”

That describes the positive attitude of the third graders at Flanner House Charter School after learning they scored the worst in the state on those IRead tests.

Our WTLC-AM (1310) “Afternoons with Amos” program visited the school last Friday in the wake of those same third graders excelling in the ISTEP English/Language Arts tests with 88.9 percent passing.

Local media, especially the Indianapolis Star, blasted Flanner House’s IRead performance. So did Beth Bray, head of the mayor’s charter school office, who told the Star they would “take a hard look” at Flanner House’s performance.

But after the city heard I was broadcasting from the school, they changed their tone. In a written statement (after refusing to appear on our broadcast) Deputy Mayor Kloth and the city said they “would not make any long-term decisions about the future of Flanner House Elementary based on the IRead results alone.”

In my visit and interview with Principal Latika Warthaw, 3rd grade teacher Takea White and Title 1 teacher Angie Hood, I was struck by the number of standardized tests those third graders (and presumably all others in Indiana) took during March such as ISTEP, another diagnostic test measuring student progress, plus IRead.

White told me IRead was the first multiple choice, timed, standardized test her students had ever taken; a factor which could’ve contributed to low scores.

White said her students thought they’d done well on IRead. And Hood said many students missed passing by “just a few points.”

Principal Warthaw said, “Parents came to us and said ‘what can we do to help? How can we help?’ My teachers in other classes and staff, even our board rallied saying what can we do to help.” This “pulled the school together,” said Warthaw.

Flanner House has been a steady performing charter school. Last year 88 percent of third graders passed ISTEP English/Language Arts. So this year’s 88.9 percent is comparable. The school got a “C” state grade last year and received “exemplary” ratings from the state for three years.

I was glad I visited Flanner House and that, at least through Black media, their story got told. I was surprised that Star reporters and editors haven’t visited the school. More shocking, neither Charter School Director Bray nor Deputy Mayor Kloth has visited.

Given what Flanner House has been through, and with the mayor’s “commitment” to charter schools, I’d thought Bray and Kloth would’ve been there long before I was.

Makes you wonder how serious the city is about the education of our children?

See ‘ya next week.

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