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Stand and deliver: Parents petition IPS for equity in education

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Parents, families and Stand for Children Indiana presented a petition requesting that the IPS Board of School Commissioners focus on growing top schools for Black and brown students at a press conference on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024.

The group unveiled its petition calling for IPS to utilize proven models from all school types, including local charter schools.

“I am here today to celebrate the growing support from our community to improve public education in our city and intentionally work toward partnerships,” said Susan Sargent, an IPS parent.

RELATED: As enrollment drops, IPS is pitching families on better academics. Here’s how parents are reacting

The petition led by parents garnered more than 1,000 signatures, showcasing strong community support for district leaders to develop a strategy that will close the opportunity gap by scaling the top performing schools for Black and brown students.

Advocates delivered the petition to IPS leaders at the district administration building.

Parents led the press conference and asked the IPS board to pass a resolution calling on district administration to deliver a detailed plan by the summer to scale school models.

“We also want to be clear that this plan must be in place before parents are expected to support any future referendum put forward by IPS,” said Gregory Henson, another parent.

Parents began gathering signatures last fall after reviewing ILEARN data.

In October, the IPS board members were presented with similar data regarding assessment outcomes in and around the IPS district. The report highlighted the top schools in the city for proficiency among Black and Latino students.

Stand for children

“I am grateful [IPS] shared the data because it gives us, as a community, the information we need to know. Information not easily visible in other districts,” said Irma Perdomo, another parent.

According to the October IPS board presentation, the district has only one school in the top quartile in Marion County when it comes to Black student performance on ILEARN (both ELA and math).

IPS has no schools in the top quartile in the county when looking at pass rates for Latino students for ILEARN (both ELA and math).

IPS has three of the six top high schools in Marion County as measured by SAT performance.

All top performing high schools are IPS Innovation Network charter schools, which advocates believe highlight the benefits of partnerships with high-quality schools in the charter sector.  

Parents pointed out that, in contrast, some independent charter schools within IPS boundaries are delivering outcomes for Black and Latino students that are anywhere between three and five times better than the state average for pass rates on both sections of the ILEARN, according to the Indiana Department of Education.

“I am fortunate that the school I chose has pushed me to excel and set me up to break barriers in my next chapter of life. I want every student in our city to know that feeling,” said Elazia Davison, a student at Believe Circle City High School.

In response, Superintendent Dr. Aleesia Johnson issued the following statement:

“I appreciate the perspectives and advocacy brought forth by concerned parents and community members today.

We should all be concerned when we see how much work there is to be done to recover from the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly when a gap in both the resources and opportunities available to poor students and students of color existed pre-pandemic and showed up in academic outcomes and results.

Every family in Indianapolis wants great choices at great schools, and that is what our district has been wholly focused on since 2015 with our innovation network school partnerships, our emerging schools supports, and, next year, the full implementation of Rebuilding Stronger.

Our North Star will continue to be keeping our commitment to great schools, in every neighborhood, for every student.”

Contact staff writer Jade Jackson at (317) 762-7853 or by email JadeJ@IndyRecorder.com. Follow her on Twitter @IAMJADEJACKSON. 

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