Surely the Star received input from teachers, parents or community, right? No. The three leaders, according to the Star, are new IPS Superintendent Lewis Ferebee, Jason Kloth from Mayor Ballard’s office and the CEO of Mind Trust, David Harris.
Local teachers and I read with interest the recent Star editorial lauding Lewis Ferebee, IPS’ new superintendent brought in from North Carolina, and two other “top-education leaders” for their recent radical efforts to convert the state’s largest public school district into a collection of non-union, profit-driven, privately run charter schools.
Are their efforts really in the best interest of Indianapolis’ children and families? Or are they even in the best interest of the Indianapolis community?
Are these the only “leaders” who should be in the room making decisions about the future of IPS? Where is the president of the local teachers union when these conversations take place? Who is in the room to represent parents? Taxpayers? Neighborhood associations?
Teachers and parents want to know who really represents the best interests of the children? Officials of the Mind Trust or teachers who are in the classroom every day? When is the last time David Harris or Jason Kloth, both attorneys by training, taught a classroom of seventh graders in an urban school district? Or performed bus or lunch duty? Or proctored the ISTEP test? Or spent an entire weekend grading stacks of student writing?
Let’s be honest here. To create an IPS that really puts students’ needs first, teachers, parents, and community members need to be in the room and be part of the solution. Corporate-funded reformers don’t always have children as the bottom line in their change efforts. And that should be a concern for all of us who care about public schools and the children who attend them.
I think we can all agree that today, more than ever, it is vital that teachers have a voice in our schools. Schools and reform efforts cannot possibly succeed when Indiana teachers, who are on the frontlines every day, are left out of the decision-making process. Research shows that a partnership with administrators, educators, parents and community leaders will benefit our students. And those partnerships happen only in a collaborative atmosphere when all are listening.
Kindergarten Teacher, Shelbyville Central Schools
President, Indiana State Teachers Association