The REAL A-F Grades in IPS!

That’s one hell of a curve.

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A couple days ago, the letter grades came out for all of the schools in Indiana.  A very smart person among us (hats off to MaryAnn Schlegel Ruegger) realized that the grading system was not fair at all.  She uncovered the fact that new charters and IPS Innovation Network Schools are all allowed to be graded on growth only if they so choose.

(They chose).  There are over 40 schools statewide that are choosing to report bogus grades in this manner.

Many of the news articles that have been released discussing the letter grades for the schools did not point this out.

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This, of course, provided a PR field day for IPS and especially the Mind Trust- whose reputation is at stake if their incubated Innovation Network Schools should be reported as failing:

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So these grades are based on growth in scores ONLY, resulting in the A and B grades.  But, what are the REAL scores for these schools?  Let’s take a look at the actual percentages of students PASSING BOTH MATH AND ELA:

Cold Spring:  30.2%

Enlace: 28.0%

Global Prep: no data

Phalen 103:  12.8%

Phalen 93: 38.2%

Kipp Indy: 18.0%

Kindezi: no data

I teach at the college level, and my students would never get an A or B for these scores.  Do the parents know that their child’s A and B-rated school is graded on the sell-out curve?  Do the parents know that in the world of public education, the dollar sign is highly favored over the percentage passing sign??  And bogus grades are being created in order to continue to drive customers to failing schools?

And do the parents know there are some traditional public IPS schools that are performing better than the schools listed above?  But this is the truth that the Mind Trust and IPS don’t want the public or the parents to know, so that the privatization of our public schools can continue.

Please share widely, and if you haven’t already, follow Indy Apples and the IPS Community Coalition on Facebook, or become a member of the IPS Community Coalition at this site.  Those are two groups dedicated to exposing the truth about public education in Indianapolis.

 

*Thanks to MaryAnn Schlegel Ruegger and Indy Apples for graphics and ideas.  Data comes from IDOE Compass or 9/6/17 Chalkbeat article detailing ISTEP scores.

 

Focusing on key issues

Let’s talk about neoliberalism, gentrification and race instead of who-said-what at the last meeting.

Dear Mrs. Sheila Kennedy,

In response to your blog dated 9/7/2017 “How Not To Win Friends and Influence People” :

You don’t know me, but I do seek to find commonalities before highlighting what divides us.  So first, I’ll say that I voted for Lugar in the primary the last time he ran.  I like him and I especially like his across the aisle political style.  A moderate.  But, as some of your commenters point out, desperate times call for desperate measures.  And many of the folks who pay close attention to IPS issues felt the ‘desperate measures’ threshold was crossed some time ago.   Please allow me to explain.

While your blog entry is focused squarely on civility in public discourse (some of which I do happen to agree with) – the time for us liberals to be burying our heads in the sand regarding what is truly happening with IPS has got to end, or there will be no IPS left.  Hence the strong language and attention-grabbing testimonials.

Based on what I have read of your blogs, I’m interested in your thoughts on the deeper issue here. When it comes to IPS, it seems that you have skirted the underlying issues while instead focusing squarely on superficial happenings such as the tone of one person’s delegation.  But, what about the underlying message?

Jim Scheurich (full professor of Education at IUPUI with decades of experience) and other concerned citizens of the IPS Community Coalition are speaking directly  to the effects of neoliberalism which are playing out in our own backyard with IPS.  Our free public school district is, piece by piece, becoming free market, privately owned, and our tax dollars a source of fine income for the owners.   If you require further explanation, please see my previous blogs on Phalen Academy, Innovation Network and their CEO Earl Martin Phalen, a Boston resident managing one Indianapolis charter and one IPS Innovation Network school.  Phalen’s salary rivals or exceeds that of IPS Superintendent Dr. Ferebee’s (who manages ~60 schools and is present in Indianapolis every day).  Don’t take my word for it – please follow the links in my blogs to explore the IPS Board Documents which ratified what I am describing.

Mrs. Kennedy, in your blog you state:

“…he has lectured the Board that it is “amateurish,” accused members of being “bought and paid for,” and characterized their elections as “undemocratic.”

As far as Dr. Scheurich’s comments regarding being bought and paid for, there is a large network of organizations that are supportive of this neoliberal agenda- organizations which give large campaign finance donations.  I was “bought and paid for” as well in my 2012 election, as are six of the seven current IPS Board members (excepting only Elizabeth Gore, elected in 2016, who was not supported by the ed-reform organizations).  Campaign finance documents tell the tale.  I would further agree that his characterization of the elections as “undemocratic” are spot on.  What average citizen can compete with millions of special interest campaign spending?

I bet that your comeback (if you amuse me with one) is going to point to the declining enrollments and declining quality of IPS due to the poor test scores.  You will justify your daughter and former student’s IPS board actions by saying that it is necessary to close schools (I’m not talking about closing schools) and you might even dare to propose on that basis that IPS is justified in handing over schools and resources to outside entities (who stand to profit, regardless of 501c3 status).

This is a divisive issue, especially among white liberals.  I’ll tell you why I think it is so – based on the lingering effects of racism and segregation.

There are some white people who have moved beyond the city limits who are simply tired of making that long drive everyday, or who live in elite enclaves of the IPS district.  They need a school that they feel *comfortable* sending their kids to.  These folks are generally supportive of anything that might create a school *just diverse enough* for their kids to attend.

Mrs. Kennedy, I bring this up because of your following comment:

” He topped it off by telling the white members of the Board they were racists. (He’s white.) He rarely looked at the Board during this extended diatribe; instead, he aimed his rhetoric at  the largely African-American attendees who were clearly his real audience.”

Race is a real issue for a school board making decisions in the throes of advancing neoliberal policies located within a city in the midst of gentrification.  There are white liberals (such as yourself, your daughter, and your former student) who tend to make the issues of race and segregation worse by assuming that racism is a problem solely for the black community to solve.  One of the facets of white privilege is obliviousness.  The black community isn’t the intended audience…black people have long been aware of racial issues in IPS and see it not as a new problem, but one that simply continues to exist.  Dr. Scheurich was not speaking to only the black people in the room because I’m sure he realizes that it will take ALL of us to tackle these seemingly insurmountable issues.  I say insurmountable because, the first step in solving them would be for our elected representatives to get beyond their white privilege and be engaged listeners.

Can we focus less on the mode of delivery for a group of people in the city who are feeling unheard, and focus more on the bigger issues mentioned above?  I’m on campus.  Let’s grab a coffee.

 

Dear IPS,

A heartfelt letter to the district I love: an invitation to stand for what is right and not permanently close three of our high schools.

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!

Jim Scheurich, IUPUI professor on the racial impact of the proposed closure of three IPS 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

Affording charter schools the opportunity to “buy in bulk” comes at a cost to IPS.

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.

 

Chalkbeat Indiana Distorts the Truth About IPS Board Election Campaign Funding – Dr. Jim Scheurich

 Originally posted 

November 3, 2016  

on

 Kheprw Institute 


Jim Scheurich, Indianapolis citizen & IUPUI university professor

On Friday, October 28th, the Recorder published an article by McCoy of Chalkbeat Indiana called, “Out-of-state money seems to be skipping the IPS board race.”

Community activists have repeatedly made the point that major money from wealthy individuals and organizations from outside Indiana has poured into the IPS board election.  These activists have suggested that this “outsider” money is being used to “buy” the election for the Stand for Children-Mind Trust supported candidates: Odle, Arnold, O’Connor, and Moore.  (For more indepth info on the Mind Trust-Stand for Children operation, see http://kheprw.org/ips-research-group-presentation-on-the-mind-trust/)

This criticism has made Stand for Children-Mind Trust and their candidates defensive and nervous.  Could they actually lose the election like the Stand for Children candidates in Nashville, Tennessee did because they were violating campaign finance laws by hiding the expenditure of school board campaign funds? (http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/2016/08/04/stand-children-loses-big-nashville-state-races/88047446/)

In response, Indiana Chalkbeat’s article title indicates that out-of-state money is no longer a factor in the IPS election.

This is simply NOT true and is in fact a distortion.

Stand for Children, which claims to be a positive community organization, is both a 501C3 and a 501C4 organization.  Having the 501C4 means Stand for Children, remember, that friendly community organization, can HIDE where money is coming in from and where it is being spent.

Because of the criticism of the Stand for Children-Mind Trust candidates receiving outside the state money for the 2014 election, Stand for Children has substantially decreased outside funds going directly to the candidates.  Instead, it is passing the outsider money through its 501C4 so we the citizens of Indianapolis do not know what it is really up to.

While we cannot say exactly how much Stand for Children is spending on the 2016 election, we do have some reasonable estimates based on the number of mailings they are doing for each of their four candidate and what we know of the cost for such mailings.

In our best and most conservative estimates, we believe Stand for Children is spending around $600,000 on this election.  Around $600,000!!!

 Here’s how we arrived at this estimate.  In 2012, Stand for Children did about 10 mailings for each candidate for four districts.  Each of those mailings cost about $7,000, which means they spend about $70,000 on each of the three district level candidates for a total of $210,000.  We assume they are doing similar for this election.

However, the citywide candidate mailings are much more expensive, somewhere around $30,000 each.  This year they have done at least five completely different ones for Odle, and we expect at least one more prior to the election for a total of $180,000.

If we add all of this together, we get $390,000 just for the mailings.  However, they are also producing yard signs, using other media, etc. so we conservatively estimate they are spending around $600,000, and it could be much more.

Remember in 2010, a citizen of Indianapolis could successfully run for the school board for $3-4,000.  In addition, we doubt that ALL the candidates not supported by Stand for Children and the Mind Trust are spending collectively more than $50,000.

If Chalkbeat Indiana, the Recorder, or any local news outlet wants to prove us wrong, ask Stand for Children, that friendly community organization, to open its books to the public.

Indeed, we would suggest there is a general failure of the local news outlets—like the Star, the Recorder, Nuvo, the TV stations—to investigate this issue.  It would seem to us that the local news outlets have a community responsibility to do this unless they are afraid of the powerful people and organizations backing Stand for Children and the Mind Trust, or the news outlets are being complicit in the hiding of the funding.

Local news outlets, don’t you feel a responsibility to push Stand for Children to open its books, to be transparent about where its money is coming from and how much is being spent on each of its four candidates?

Odle, Arnold, O’Connor, and Moore, what about you all?  If you are as committed to IPS students as you say, let’s make the campaign financing public and transparent.  Tell Stand for Children to open its books.  If you don’t, your so-called commitment to the Indianapolis community and its children is highly questionable.

If no one pushes Stand for Children to open its books, it looks like a bought election.  It looks like democracy is being destroyed by big money kept in the dark.  Dark money for a bought election?

Jim Scheurich is a professor at the IUPUI School of Education.  You can read his bio here.  

Dear Prez.

President Obama,

I was proud to share the ballot with you in 2012 as an elected public school board member from Indianapolis, Indiana. Of course you were at the top of said ballot, and I was at the very bottom, but I digress. 🙂

Here’s my prediction: public education as we both have known and benefited from it will cease to exist. I am a product of the school system that I now serve. Public schooling enabled me to overcome and succeed despite an unstable home life and becoming a parent at the age of fifteen. I owe so much in return for the support and opportunities I’ve received. It pains me to bear witness to what is happening in my local school district currently.

During my four year tenure on the board of Indianapolis Public Schools, I have witnessed the gutting of our public school system, as many other cities have also experienced. It concerns me greatly that a market based approach is being implemented in our great American public school system. Privatizing our prisons was bad enough. Education is a human right. A profit motive diminishes the quality of opportunities we can offer our children in favor of increasing CEO salaries at the top – and it is being accomplished with our tax dollars. The very student populations that are most disenfranchised and vulnerable are the ones being targeted for these experiments in cashing in on our children. In Indianapolis, there are charter school CEO’s that operate one or two schools that make more money than our public school superintendent that oversees 60+ schools. It is our children that suffer.

Mr. President, I have exhausted every avenue and tool at my disposal to raise awareness of this issue. The continued privatization of our public school systems will do nothing but expand the divide between the haves and have nots in this country. Please do what you can to reinforce our American educational system as the great equalizer that it once was. Education can be the key to unlocking opportunity for children regardless of color or creed, if it remains a taxpayer funded, respected public institution. It will not achieve this lofty goal if it is completely transformed to another potentially lucrative opportunity for investors. Educators, children, the future state of public education is dependent upon your intervention.

Thank you for your consideration.

Most respectfully and humbly submitted,

Gayle Cosby

(My thoughts expressed here are entirely my own, and do not reflect those of any other entity or group).