Category Archives: IPS

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.

 

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).

Marianette

Dear Reader,

Did you know that Marian University now owns a lot more land than it used to?

That’s right.  Indianapolis Public Schools transferred several acres of land surrounding Cold Spring School last week to Marian University.  This acreage included lots of natural habitat along the river as well as three buildings, one of which is the beautiful Sommers Mansion:

Marian Property

I bet you’re wondering why a struggling public school district would do such a thing, especially when the potential revenue that could have been generated from selling the property sure would come in handy right about now.

Apparently most folks at IPS are satisfied with Marian University simply assuming all maintenance costs associated with the property.  In fact, the amount of money that Marian spends each year to maintain the property will ultimately purchase the Cold Spring School building itself, after 13 years of upkeep costs.  (I think aggressively marketing and renting the Mansion could probably cover most/all of that, but I digress.)  Essentially, if IPS decides to no longer operate a school at this location after 13 years, Marian assumes ownership of that property also.  You can read the term sheet for yourself here.

It really comes as no surprise.  Marian University essentially gained control of the school back in April 2016 when Cold Spring converted to Innovation School status.  This was unprecedented because, under IPS’s operation, Cold Spring School was rated an A.

I certainly hope that the A rating remains, although Marian has announched plans to make Cold Spring School a lab school for its School of Education, which may or may not shift its curricular focus away from the current Environmental Studies curriculum that has been so successful.   I’ve heard rumors that Tony Bennett has been contracted to evaluate and revamp Marian’s teacher education programs, which, if it’s true, will likely result in the strengthening of the already prominent Teach For America (TFA) and The New Teacher Project (TNTP) transition-to-teaching programs…just a little prediction for ya.

 

My thoughts are my own, and do not reflect any other entity.

Comments?  Email me: gayle_cosby@yahoo.com

 

February 2016 Agenda

What’s on the agenda this month:

  • There is a potential contract for substitute teachers which would outsource that entirely to Parallel Employment Group.  Current IPS subs will be “grandfathered in” at their current pay rate but new subs will be paid substantially less than what IPS had paid.
  • The IDOE’s new “student-centered” accountability model is explained HERE.
  • There is an UPDATE on the performance of Emma Donnan, now operated by Charter Schools USA through an Innovation Partnership.
  • The budget for the 2016-2017 school year will be discussed.  I found this particular line item shocking:  innpayments
  • If proposed policy changes are approved, the board will no longer hear appeals from families with students facing expulsion from IPS.
  • The terms for new Innovation Network Schools at both RIVERSIDE #44 and KILMER #69 are discussed. Both want to start as a K-2 and grow, yet manage the 3-6 grades during the growth process.  Odd.
  • Teacher performance grants are coming: Highly effective teachers receive $208 and Effective Teachers receive $190.perfpay
  • Finally, the superintendent’s contract (which expires JUNE 2017) is being re-negotiated.  The proposed contract details are as follows: supcontract

Are you interested in any of these topics?  The board will meet to discuss them on Tuesday, 2/23, at 6pm.  The meeting is held in the board room at 120 E. Walnut, Indianapolis.  Voting on these issues will take place Thursday, 2/25, 6pm at the same location.  You can also view Thursday’s voting session via live stream at www.myips.org

This is my own personal blog – not intended to represent IPS, any other entity or body and reflect my own thoughts only.

 

The purpose of education: the three E’s

 

I have heard it said that the purpose of education in IPS should ultimately result in one of the three E’s:

Enrollment

Enlistment

Employment

I want to offer three alternative E’s for your consideration:

Emancipation

Enlightenment

Empowerment

Let us consider the differences between education in different settings.  The elite private schools of Indianapolis certainly don’t offer up “enrollment, enlistment, and employment” as the purposes for the education that they are offering their students.  In fact, one website I visited  included three C’s in their vision: curiosity, compassion, and courage.  It is just me, or are there radically different connotations to each of those lists of words?  Yep.  Enrollment, enlistment, and employment should not be the end game here.  Being enrolled, enlisted, or employed should be natural byproducts of an education that honors and inspires the whole child…a child who is:

EMANCIPATED:  has realized that his current socioeconomic status and/or identity is not predictive of or limiting his future possibilities.

ENLIGHTENED: has been exposed to a wide variety of curricula, activities, and interests, can apply that information to her current circumstance, and is inspired to pursue further learning on topics of her choosing.

EMPOWERED: has realized that his locus of control lies within himself, takes his resources into account and knows when to use them, demonstrates responsibility and self-determination.

Allow me to offer a couple of scenarios for your consideration:

School A students wait outside or on the bus until the bell rings.  Once allowed inside, they walk with bubbles in their mouths and their arms crossed in hallway hugs on the right side of the hallway, using the red tape line as a guide, with absolutely no talking.  They arrive at their classroom, and are greeted by an under-appreciated, underpaid and overworked teacher, who (in some cases) loves them anyway, and are doing the absolute best they can despite the current conditions.  School A student sits at their desk, quietly doing bell work.  Their day consists of a math block, a reading block (typically with basal readers and pre-made worksheets), and Science or Social Studies if it’s in a grade where it’s tested on ISTEP, and when there is time in the day for it.  The Indiana Academic Standards are posted on the wall so we always know which ones we are currently working on, and because there will be a test soon.  There is always an upcoming test; quizzes, benchmarks, I-READS, I-STEPS.  Student A gets gym twice a week, Music twice a week, and Art on a cart or library once a week.  She gets the same lunch as everyone else, whether kindergarten or high school athlete.  She sits down at the long cafeteria table, next to the kid in line according to alphabetical order.  Sometimes she has to sit in silence with the lights out at lunch, while a stressed out adult yells at them through a microphone to be quiet.  If she talks, she get after school detention.

A student from school B arrives at school early to go and speak with his favorite teacher before class starts.  There are no bells, but student B knows when it’s time to head to homeroom because he can hear the happy chatter of students in the halls.  Teachers throughout the halls are standing at their doors, smiling, and greeting students.  Student B enters the classroom and gets ready for his discussion in circle time.  He knows he will have to plan his day of learning, and his teacher guides him in planning to make choices throughout the day, such as where to sit, how to see the best in his (sometimes annoying) classmates, which books to read, which topics to write about, which centers to visit during math workshop.  When his friend helps him to discover grouping pumpkin seeds by ten to count rather than counting by ones, his teacher notes his success and celebrates by asking the class to stop and watch his demonstration.  At lunch, he sits outside in the spring air with a chosen group of friends but plans to visit the library during lunch tomorrow. In the afternoon, he has a disagreement with a peer that wouldn’t leave him alone.  He had to set aside time to attend a peace mediation session with his teacher, and everything is back to normal now – which is great, because the best part of his day is going to the Environmental Club after school.

As you think about the differences in the vignettes from school A vs. school B, please consider the following:
  • What organizational differences in these two settings are creating such a vast gap in the learning experiences of students?  What is the “work” culture of these two districts?  What policies are in place to set these conditions?  What role might standardized testing play?  How might the concept of accountability be experienced differently in school A vs. school B?
  • What do you think the adults in school A are doing differently than the adults in school B?
  • Trick question: which school has the highest paid outside consultants? (Hint: it’s not the one you might think.)
  • Which school offers more individual freedom?  What are the consequences of allowing students to make authentic choices, both negative and positive? (dare I say it, student AUTONOMY?)
  • How might the opportunity to make decisions in school affect a student’s learning…after all, isn’t LIFE about the ability for people to make sound decisions for themselves?
  • Over 12 years of schooling, what cumulative effects can we expect on human lives?  In other words, which set of three E’s is school A preparing students for?  School B?
  • Which school is designed to produce leaders and innovators?  Which school is designed to produce worker bees?  Does either school encourage the questioning of authority, or the status quo? Is this by design?
  • Does student A DESERVE different treatment than student B, based on an ability to pay for a private school education?  To what extent (if any) can a public school offer a private school education (or a semblance of it)?
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For the first time ever, I am allowing comments on this blog thread.  Responses are moderated, and idiocy of any kind is not tolerated.  Let’s discuss the questions above, and the general idea of the PURPOSE of education, public, charter, and private.  If your comments do not get posted, it’s because you did not give input to the questions.  Or you were inappropriate. Don’t take it personal…
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Do you want to share the story of what is going on in your Indianapolis school?  I am inviting teachers, school staff and students to write about their experiences, good and bad, to be shared anonymously (or not, you choose) on my blog.  Please email submissions to: gayle_cosby@yahoo.com
These thoughts are my own and do not reflect IPS or any other entity.  I assume no responsibility for the comments of others on this blog or in any other format.