The summer months are coming to an end for most students attending schools in Marion County. The summer activity focusing on the public schools from the referendums and the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) has had a great impact on many school districts in our county.
Perry Township voters approved both referendums from the Metropolitan School District of Perry Township, one focused on maintenance projects and the other on overall funding. Voters in the Franklin Township area rejected a measure that would have increased the property tax rate up to 75 cents on each $100 of assessed property value.
At the IDOE, Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett recently announced that there are seven schools that are eligible for state intervention under Public Law 221 (PL 221). This law requires the state to intervene in low performing schools that fail to improve after a set number of years.
PL 221 places schools into five performance categories based on academic success and improvement: Exemplary Progress (A), Commendable Progress (B), Academic Progress (C), Academic Watch (D), and Academic Probation (F). The law also mandates that the state take action towards any school that remains in Academic Probation (F) for six consecutive years.
Now all eyes are on a single school district within Marion County, the Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS). Six of the seven schools that received a grade of (F) are within the boundaries of the IPS school district.
Arlington Community High School, Broad Ripple Magnet High School for the Performing Arts, Emma Donnan Middle School, Emmerich Manual High School, George Washington Community High School, and Thomas Carr Howe Community High School all received a failing grade.
There were many possible interventions that are outlined in PL 221. But I want to focus simply on one of them: (4) implement other options offered during the public hearings.
This is the one that stands out to me, as I attended many of the hearings held by Dr. Bennett and the State Board of Education. Each of these hearings were well attended and many in the community came to speak up and speak out about “their” school and what they would like to see done concerning “their” school.
Overwhelmingly, the majority of speakers were in favor of helping and supporting their school, and opposed any form of state intervention. Well, the time is here and the time is now for all of these individuals, groups, and supporters of their school to take some corrective action.
I am sure that Dr. Eugene White, the IPS School Board, and the entire staff in the IPS family would love to have your support, but also your passion that was on display during those public hearings. School has started in IPS and everyone will be watching, from the state level, all the way down to the local media.
Will we go back to business as usual (like we have for the last five years), or will we as a community really take the education of our young people seriously enough to actually back up our passionate words with some organized and effective action?
Leroy Robinson is dean of students at Lincoln Middle School in Pike Township and is running for an at-large seat on the Indianapolis City-County Council. You can contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org or (317) 502-0272.