All posts by gaylecosby

Atypical politician: unconditional truth teller, seeker and conveyer of wisdom. Tell it like it is, shoot from the hip, can't afford to waste any more time. Let's go.

A MUST READ! Think National, Fight Local: The Story of Indianapolis and the DPE (Destroy Public Education) Movement

This is a piece that myself, Jim Scheurich (IUPUI Professor) and Nate Williams (Knox College Professor) wrote for Diane Ravitch’s blog: https://dianeravitch.net/.   Please share, and let us know what is happening in your area if you are reading from outside Indianapolis.

Diane Ravitch's blog

This very important post was written for this blog by Jim Scheurich on behalf of himself, Gayle Cosby, and Nathanial Williams, who are identified in the text. They are experienced in the school politics of Indianapolis, a city whose school system is being systematically dismantled and privatized. They have been active in the fight against what they call the DPE (Destroy Public Education) model in their city. Their experience and insights are extremely informative, especially their recognition that the DPE movement is not limited to Indianapolis; it has gone national. Indianapolis is only one of its targets. The business community, civic leaders, political leaders, DFER, the Mind Trust, and Stand for Children have joined together to Destroy Public Education. As they attack democratic institutions, they falsely claim that “it is all about the kids” and they claim they are advancing civil rights. Instead, it is about money and power and…

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Dear IPS,

First of all, I love you, and I want you to be better, that is why I am writing this letter.  Truly, you have provided a decent education to me, generations of my family before me, and to my children.  We may have been privileged in ways that let us see a better side of you, because I know not every person that has tried IPS has liked it.  But for mine and my children’s experience, I am overall grateful.

So, about what is happening right now – I have questions.  So do others in the community -questions left unanswered by your recent listening tour.  It was overly structured to limit participant interaction with the decision-makers.  Not a good look.

I understand the intent is to close three of our high schools.  (I say “our” because you need to understand that these belong to the community and the people of this community.  I assume shared ownership, as do many others.)  This really is heart-wrenching news, never mind which three have been chosen.

We, the community, have been thinking.  What does it mean that IPS is closing three traditional public high schools, yet partnering with charter school entities to open other new high schools at the same time?  These actions MEAN something.  First of all, they mean that there are definitely high-school aged students within IPS boundaries looking to enroll somewhere.  If that weren’t true, then why would the charter schools be opening?  Secondly, why isn’t IPS working overtime to attract those kids to enroll in the traditional public high schools, instead of closing our schools and resigning those kids to attend the new charter schools?  We say ‘resigning’ cause, hey – we’re biased but – those schools have no history, no SOUL.  A hundred years from now, will our descendents proudly tell their kids that their grandparents graduated from Connections Academy?  From Carpe Diem?  The Excel Center?  There is no sense of place or space associated with these names…online?  A cubicle farm?  A strip mall?  No offense intended, but I’ll give somebody a dollar if these institutions survive the next decade or two.

But what of the legacy and history of Broad Ripple, Crispus Attucks, Arsenal Tech, George Washington, Shortridge, Northwest, Arlington, John Marshall?  We’ve seen it happen before – one of those spaces closes its doors and it rips a big hole in the fabric of our community.  It takes years and hundreds of needles and thread to heal that damage…and the spot still always looks and feels different.

We have established that the closures aren’t really due to a lack of students, since IPS is partnering with charter high schools as we speak.  So WHY is this happening?  Race wasn’t mentioned once in the initial report on the school closures, but it seems that every time IPS schools are shifted or closed, it is due to race.  (The creation of Attucks, strategic location of other schools historically, but I digress).  Right now, Indianapolis is in the beginning stages of gentrification, meaning that lots of white people are coming back to center township from previous iterations of white flight from the city core.  Is the racialized stigma of IPS so embedded in the collective white conscious that white students STILL cannot attend IPS?  [White students comprise 20% of the current IPS population].  If this is not it, then what is it?  What is the reason that since circa 1954 Brown v. Board, (well -really IPS dragged its feet until around 1980) – IPS has never been truly integrated?

IPS, you are positioned uniquely.  I know, for decades your superintendents and board members have been tasked with implementing the charges of the city’s power elite, but… You can break those chains!  Stop giving our public resources away to charter school money-makers, and stand as a true beacon of opportunity for all who choose to settle within the boundaries of IPS.  Instead of selling three of our community’s school buildings, seek alternative means of income or consolidation such as leasing or renting excess properties.   Develop strategies to attract all families to a school system of equitable offerings that reach all learning styles.  If you are successful in building a quality public education, you will not need to lease extra building space for long.  As the population of center township increases, so will the enrollment of IPS.

We know this is a big task.  Undoing decades of self-selected segregation is going to be hard.  But if you don’t step up now, the education inequity gaps already in place in Indy will become great crevasses, swallowing up black and brown communities all over our city.  We already see the most desirable magnet schools being heavily populated by white students.  If you continue down your current path, you’ll get the same apartheid results on a larger scale.  Don’t close our schools, and don’t allow magnets and charters to become additional layers in a caste system of schooling.  Do the right thing.  This is your last chance to prove us wrong.

 

Comments permitted on this thread.

Questions/comments?  Contact the author at grhynear@iupui.edu

 

IPS is closing 3 High Schools!

A meeting was held on April 18 to announce the need to close three Indianapolis Public Schools high school buildings.  A facilities utilization taskforce report was presented, which discusses the costs involved, utilization of each school building, projections for enrollment, etc.  The three schools slated for closure were not identified at this meeting, and will likely not be revealed until June.  However, the community already has developed a compelling set of questions that must be addressed.  The elephant in the room, according to IUPUI Professor of Education Jim Scheurich, is the question of race.  See his comprehensive facebook post below for more information (reposted with permission):

IPS SCHOOL BOARD IS TRYING HARD TO “WHITEWASH” THE CLOSING OF IPS HIGH SCHOOLS

THEY PRESENTED A SCHOOL CLOSING REPORT WITHOUT ONCE EVEN USING THE WORD “RACE”

Last night I attended the IPS board meeting in which the facilities report on closing possibly three IPS high schools was presented.

However, they did not name the high schools to be closed. Over the next month or so, there will be four, maybe five, public meetings for the community to express its response to the closings. Where and when those will happen is at the bottom of this post.

In June, the IPS school board says it will make the decision on which high schools to close. Then, in July and Aug., there will be community meetings at each of the high schools that have been chosen to be closed. Finally, on Sept. 19th IPS board meet, they will vote on the high schools they will close.

While this may already be mostly a done deal for the school board, if the community is to have any impact, it will be at these upcoming community meetings listed below.

Again, our only opportunity to have impact is at these community meetings over the next month. Thus, if you want the community to have any voice at all, you will need to attend one or more of these meetings.

On the other hand, if we sit by in silence, they will do whatever they want without regard to what the community wants.

Remember, the Stand for Children-Mind Trust network spent over one million dollars over the past two elections to control who is on the school board. The money they used, which is hidden behind Stand for Children’s 501C4, has overwhelmingly come from wealthy conservative white people across the country and in Indy. (Why would wealthy conservative white folks who will likely never step foot in Indy want to commit thousands of dollars to IPS board elections?)

What all of this means, though, is that we cannot assume that this IPS board has the best interests of our children in mind with their decisions.

The only people we can really trust in this situation is ourselves. If we care, we must go to these community meetings and speak.

If you are interested in my critique of the facilities report, it is available on a prior post.

In addition, I was able to present last night at the board meeting. I raised the points I had covered in my post. Most importantly, the report did not address race at all, including how various closings would relate to re-segregating schools and undermining Black community areas. Indeed, they did not once use the word race anywhere in the report.

The board ignored everything I said, though I think the audience, which was largely Black, did support my statements. The board only focused on the “technical” issues of the potential closings. Clearly, they are trying very hard to ignore any of the hard issues. Some might call this a “whitewash.”

School Closing Community Meetings.

You may have to sign up to speak. You can probably find this out on Chalkbeat, Chalkbeat.org or on the school board’s website or on wfyi.org or keep an eye out for my posts.

ATTEND THESE MEETINGS!

Wednesday, April 26
Glendale Library
6101 N. Keystone Ave.
Indianapolis, IN 46220
6:00 – 8:00 pm

Monday, May 1
Ivy Tech Culinary Center
2820 N. Meridian Street
Indianapolis, IN 46208
6:00 – 8:00 pm

Thursday, May 11
Zion Hope Baptist Church
5950 E 46th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46226
6:00 – 8:00 pm

Monday, May 15
Haughville Library
2121 W. Michigan St.
Indianapolis, IN 46222
6:00 – 8:00 pm

See WFYI’s coverage of the meeting here.

The Sam’s Club of Schooling: IPS’s Innovation Network

This month’s IPS agenda is rife with Innovation Network agreements, which are partnerships between IPS and charter school operators.  There is one presentation scheduled for a proposed partnership with Herron High School (both downtown and Riverside locations).  The other three slated Innovation Network schools have the documents already drawn up: Avondale Meadows Middle School, Elder Diggs Elementary #42, and Thomas Gregg Elementary #15.

The details of each arrangement vary from school to school.  A partnership with Herron High School came as a surprise to many. A short announcement of the intended partnership was buried in the Herron High School newsletter – with no public announcement or any solicitation of feedback from Herron families.  Community members are left wondering what’s in it for each party.  IPS will benefit by being able to count Herron High School students in their enrollment numbers and are surely seeking a boost from counting Herron student’s test scores and graduation rates as part of their own.  It appears that Herron may benefit from receiving IPS’s higher per-pupil student expenditure amount.  This is an atypical partnership because typically IPS owns the building of the Innovation Network school, but this is not the case with Herron.

Similarly, Avondale Meadows Middle School owns their property, and thus their partnership will reap similar benefits to Herron’s.  Avondale Meadows and Herron have been freestanding charter schools before pursuing a partnership with IPS.  The difference is that they now will receive more funding (at the higher IPS student rate).

In the case of schools #42 and #15, these are historically traditional IPS schools that are being converted to an Innovation Network school status.  In plain language, this means that IPS is contracting with a charter school operator company to run the school.

IPS Innovation Network partnerships are becoming the Sam’s Club of the charter school world. Small, independent charter schools operation costs are much higher than a large district like IPS.  If a prospective charter school seeks membership in the IPS Sam’s Club, they either receive services like transportation, food service, special education and ELL teachers for free, OR their membership gets them the power of buying in bulk.

Rather than “innovate” with IPS, why don’t these charter schools use their authorizers (the Mayor’s Office or the Indiana Charter School Board) as a lever for buying in bulk with other similar schools?

If IPS continues ‘innovation’ at this pace, it will become a shell corporation, an umbrella simply offering some shelter and benefits to a slew of smaller charter school operators.

IPS truly needs to reinvent itself.  Not by giving away precious resources to charter operators, but by investing in their teachers, giving true autonomy to educators with ideas, and revamping their ideas about curriculum.  Sadly, instead IPS is innovating itself out of the business of providing a free, appropriate public education for all students.

 

Guest Blog: IPS and Alternative Ed

Is our IPS “dumping” certain students into alternative programs to increase its grad rate?

 

     This is a possibility for any district according to “Hidden Dropouts: how high schools game the system by dumping underachievers into alternative programs.”

http://www.pressreader.com/usa/usa-today-us-edition/20170221/281479276181361

      Except for the recent scandal at IPS #28, we don‘t hear much from the IPS Alt Ed Division. You’d think we’d constantly hear about how students were “turned around” and put “back on track” and returned to the mainstream where they were successful, and all due to our district’s alternative programs.  

     (FYI Here’s the link to IPS alternatives http://www.myips.org/Page/34369)

    One reason for this lack of public information may be that IPS alternatives simply warehouse students in “soft jails” in the underbelly of the system. This goes along with the history of punitive alternatives which are actually created for the school adults who don’t know what else to with the chronically disruptive. Here alternative schools act as “safety valves” for teachers and not “safety nets” for those students underserved by the district. In some cases then, IPS programs are neither alternative nor educational.

     Here’s the real question: If IPS alternatives do “work,” why can’t any student attend?

    Thus, the issues here are: 1) How would we know if IPS doesn’t game the system to increase its grad rates; and, 2) are IPS alternatives the first step for some students into the pipeline to prison? We won’t know unless we see the data–but does IPS keep data on its alternative programs and students?

________

John Harris Loflin is an IPS graduate and retired IPS teacher. He has a graduate degree in Alternative Ed from IU. John’s ideas are published locally, in the state and the U.S., and internationally. He’s also presented at conferences regarding alternative and democratic education on 6 contents.  See his work here:

http://vorcreatex.com/general-alternative-ed/

http://vorcreatex.com/indianapolis-indiana-alternative-ed/

http://vorcreatex.com/national-international-alternative-ed/

A nail in the coffin


I’m back.  Well, I never really left.

But someone else has returned.

This month the brand new IPS board saw it fit to appoint Patrick Herrel to be the Director of Student Enrollment and Options.

Who is Patrick Herrel?

He was the right hand man to David Harris, CEO of the Mind Trust.  The Mind Trust is a nonprofit organization that works to place IPS schools in privately owned hands by converting them to Innovation Network, or charter-operated, schools.

Patrick left the Mind Trust and Indianapolis to be the Director of the Mind Trust #2 in Cincinnati.  Now he is back to run Student Enrollment and Options at IPS.  And he doesn’t come cheap:

  Combine this with the fact that Enroll Indy, another privatizing nonprofit focused on jointly enrolling students into both IPS and charter schools, moved into a prominent space on the first floor of the IPS Education center – and we have a recipe for disaster of EPIC money grubbing proportions.

The Mind Trust’s prodigal son and its daughter company Enroll Indy are now perfectly poised to seize even more public school $tudent$, propertie$, building$, and tax dollar$ intended to provide a free public education.

How many more nails will this board and administration drive into the coffin of public education in Indianapolis?  

Maybe this is the final one necessary.

Closing Comments

Tonight marked my last board meeting as an Indianapolis Public Schools commissioner.  I have included a video of my closing comments below.

This was but one chapter in my journey.  I plan to continue advocacy for not only IPS, but the strengthening of public schools in general.

Thank you to everyone who supported me in this journey, and who fought the good fight alongside me.  

Here is a link to the video:

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10209967950571963&id=1131069828