What is in the ventilation system or in the water pipes in the Indianapolis Public Schools’ headquarters that makes superintendents and school board members lose their minds?
When he became superintendent, Dr. Lewis Ferebee promised a new era of outreach to IPS parents, students and community. Openness, collaboration, cooperation, working together was the mantra Ferebee proclaimed.
The three new IPS board members, bought and paid for by Stand for Children and wealthy out-of-town education reformers, also promised collaboration, openness, transparency.
It would be a new day, they all exclaimed.
Well, those proclamations of a new day in IPS are a fraud!
The events of the past two weeks have clearly demonstrated Ferebee and our bought-and-paid-for school board are intent on ramming their spurious education agenda down the IPS community’s throat!
The latest example of this perfidy involves a series of proposals where IPS again treats students, especially minority students, like pieces on a Monopoly board.
First, after providing educational innovation for 28 years, the Key School — with unique educational curriculum, lauded worldwide — which has been housed in Thomas Edison School 47 for 15 years, will be closed next June.
Some 400 students will be uprooted to points unknown.
Next, some 350 students at Mary Nicholson School 70, at 46th and Central in “south” Meridian-Kessler, will be shipped to School 47. School 70, a quality performing arts magnet school for kindergarten through fifth grade, will be expanded to include more grade levels, through eighth-grade, and will continue as a magnet school.
School 70’s building will be filled with a fourth Center for Inquiry (CFI), a school IPS brags is one of their best that serves kindergarten to eighth grade.
Key School houses separately state-graded elementary, middle and high schools. The middle and high schools are “C” schools, according to the State Department of Education. The elementary school has been an “F” school in the 2012 and 2014 school years, but earned a “B” grade in 2013.
School 70 is a high-performing school earning a “B” in 2014.
IPS claims their CFIs are high performers, with a current waiting list of over 300.
But the Department of Education’s database tells a different story.
The CFI at School 84 at 57th and Central is a straight “A” school according to the state. But the downtown CFI at School 2 only earned a “C” last year, while the other downtown CFI at School 27 earned a “D.”
News of the shuffling became public after a Sept. 17 IPS Board “working session.” Parents at School 70 began calling and emailing me about the situation.
Last Friday, on WTLC-AM (1310)’s “Afternoons with Amos” program, in an intense interview, a visibly nervous Ferebee admitted even though he was recommending the IPS Board approve these changes, IPS isn’t planning to meet with School 70 and other affected parents until the first week of November.
What arrogance for IPS’ top officials to publicly announce major changes for two of its major magnet schools, then lock the changes in stone BEFORE sitting down with parents, informing them and getting their feedback.
This is worse than the firestorm surrounding moving Shortridge’s Law and Public Policy students earlier this year to Tech so IPS’ International Baccalaureate program could be force-fed into Shortridge.
To many, it seems IPS’ “favored” programs, or the ones “favored” by whites, are deliberately being moved into the Meridian-Kessler, Broad Ripple and Butler-Tarkington areas. These blatant moves have raised suspicions that IPS is trying to bolster educational programs on the backs of Blacks and Hispanics for the benefit of northside whites.
Based on the state’s accountability grades, IPS’ CFI programs aren’t as great as the hype.
IPS produced PowerPoint slides to buttress its claim that a second CFI is justified being located in Meridian-Kessler. IPS claims most on CFI’s waiting list live in the upper third of IPS’ district geography, north of 38th Street.
But according to IPS documents, that claim is a blatant lie!
Just 36.2 percent of the CFI waiting list lives north of 38th Street; 26.8 percent live south of 10th and 16th streets; and 37 percent live between 10th/16th and 38th streets.
Last year, the three CFI schools’ combined enrollment was 22 percent Black, 7 percent Hispanic, 62.6 percent non-Hispanic white and 37.4 percent minority. This in a district that’s 79.3 percent minority, 20.7 percent white. Key School is 87 percent minority; School 70 is 94 percent minority.
The clustering of IPS’ high-performing schools to benefit and be convenient to mostly white students is beginning to look like the Machiavellian moves made by IPS superintendents and school boards during the days of de jure racial segregation in the middle part of 20th century Indianapolis.
To quote noted education reformer, former President George W. Bush, what IPS is doing to Black and minority children with their moves is demonstrating the “Soft Bigotry of Low Expectations.”
I’ll be more blunt than Mr. Bush.
What IPS is doing now is stone cold bigotry. And it’s time our community stands up and calls them out for it!
What I’m Hearing in the Streets
Because I moderated the final media debate of the 2015 Mayor’s Race, media ethics prohibit me from saying who you should vote for this Tuesday.
But our African-American community should consider this.
Which of the mayoral candidates will return to the bipartisan Unigov Indianapolis tradition of treating our African-American community as a vital part of this city/county?
Which candidate will work with our organizations and institutions — mainstream, grassroots and newcomers — to make Indy a better place?
Keep that in mind when you vote Tuesday.
See ya next week!
You can email Amos Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.