February 5, 2014


It certainly didn’t take the Indianapolis Business Journal (IBJ) long to figure out HB 1321. In its opening sentence, the IBJ gets to the heart of the bill and the matter

A pending bill could usher in unprecedented cooperation between Indianapolis Public Schools and the city’s charter schools, resulting in significant financial benefits for both.”

Notice the IBJ didn’t predict HB 1321 will result in significant improvement in student achievement.  It couldn’t because this bill is not about children.


The IBJ got it exactly right—this bill is about money—a teacher’s money, to be more precise. That’s the only thing that is crystal clear about HB 1321.


JK Wall from the IBJ goes on:


“If used widely, such contracts could help IPS reduce the $30 million it currently spends on unused space in its buildings.

The bill also would allow IPS to place most of its existing 65 schools with independent management teams—either a school’s current leadership or even outside groups, like charter operators. Any school given such autonomy would not be part of the IPS union contract, a provision that has angered teachers unions.

That shift could save the district on teacher salaries—since non-unionized charter school teachers make $10,000 less, on average, than their unionized peers in traditional public schools. With more than 2,000 teachers in IPS, the savings could be substantial.”

Mr. Wall didn’t go on to do the math—so we will.


Let’s just assume that 14 of IPS’ 65 schools get contracted out under this bill.  That’s about 22% of the IPS schools.  Assuming everything is equal, that means we are talking about 440 teachers and teacher’s families being affected.   Assuming a $10,000 per hire “savings” for IPS to outsource cheaper labor means IPS pockets $4.4 million off the top—directly from its former teachers—right out of their pockets—just like that.  It’s about the money.


No wonder this new superintendent and the bulk of the current IPS board are working (and tweeting) so hard on this bill.  Too bad he and his board haven’t displayed that same level of energy and enthusiasm working for programs to help children learn.  When was the last time a member of the IPS Board personally came to the statehouse to ask for anything for the children they serve? 


Yes, it’s about the money and it’s also about “what it’s not about.”  There is something HB 1321 doesn’t address at all—the children. Nowhere in the bill will you find a single sentence demanding or even requesting any kind of student achievement improvement from the wonder-companies with whom IPS is now so eager to cooperate. 


No limits, no pilots, no expectations, no prerequisites, no matter that a teacher is effective or highly effective, no matter these dedicated teachers’ pensions will be jeopardized, no matter that they served honorably under some of the most challenging situations, no matter that their own families sacrificed and they are now being sacrificed, no matter at all.  Just more “trust us.”


You’ll pardon us if we don’t.