I came across this little gem in the Indy Star:
I suppose that I am the one cautious board member that is named in this letter. So, allow me to address your concerns. For the record, as a former IPS teacher, I have seen firsthand the “failure” that you speak of, and share some of your frustration. I am also currently an IPS parent. My child attends a school which will likely be rated a D or an F this year (if you care about that sort of thing, given the current state of standardized testing/ISTEP). However, the devil of “innovation” is in the details. The dissent that I offer on the board in regard to innovation schools is because: I believe in equitable access to a free public education, and I do not believe that parceling out our public school system to become a loosely associated chain of charter organizations that have contracts with IPS is in the best interests of children. Do you realize that when Phalen Academy was given a contract to run school 103, they got upwards of $3 million dollars to do so? That money has to come from somewhere…and as we create more and more of these “innovation partnerships”, we are siphoning valuable and extremely limited resources from the very D and F schools that you speak of.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not only about the money – understand that these partnerships are with corporations (non-profit or otherwise) – so when you have a concern, you do not have an elected official (such as myself) to represent the people. You will be taking your chances with a privately appointed board who is tasked with running the day to day operations of the school. Good luck signing up to delegate there.
Reason #456 on my list is because: people will undoubtedly lose their jobs. As private organizations take over, they do have the right to hire their own teachers. Frequently at lower pay. There will be layoffs of teachers. These organizations also have the right to contract out any services they desire – including janitorial (bye bye, IPS custodians), food services, bus drivers – you name it, it will no longer be a secure source of employment for our community members with stable pay and benefits. It will be McBusDrivers Incorporated sending folks from out of town that don’t know how to navigate Indianapolis that will be driving your kids around for minimum wage and no health insurance.
Reason #992: Have you checked the performance of most Indianapolis charter schools lately? They fare no better than IPS.
Don’t believe the hype – innovation is possible without privatizing our public school system. Look at Project Restore, which is a model in place at schools 99, 88, and 93. It is a homegrown IPS concept that has been very successful – and it doesn’t need a contract, millions being given to an outside organization/board of directors in order to make it happen. Those schools are given the latitude needed to increase student achievement, and it works. Let’s think critically about how to really improve our school system without fragmenting and reducing it to a binder full of $$ contracts. I applaud your advocacy for your children, but you need to ask some hard questions. What is the real agenda of Stand for Children? Why have they thrown hundreds of thousands of dollars into getting IPS board members elected, including myself? Why aren’t they putting that money toward helping IPS develop more innovative homegrown programs like Project Restore, and making them available to other schools, MINUS the middlemen with their hands out?? Are you getting the whole story?
My thoughts are, obviously, my own.
Email me if you’d like: firstname.lastname@example.org