July 12, 2018 1:03 pm

What’s really going on in Indiana’s public schools

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Answer Sheet
By Valerie Strauss

By Darcie Cimarusti

When schools reopen in Indianapolis, Indiana in July, the doors of three legacy high schools will remain shuttered. The Indianapolis Public School (IPS) board voted last fall to close them after six months of raucous meetings where community members accused the board and superintendent of ignoring community concerns. Like many school closures, the recent shuttering of what were once three great high schools would disproportionately impact low-income children of color.

Superintendent Lewis Ferebee cited budget concerns and declining enrollment throughout the district as justification. But as the traditional public high schools the community fought to keep open were closed, the district opened a charter high school co-founded by  Mitch Daniels, former Indiana governor and education reform stalwart.

Daniels, now president of Purdue University and a founder of Purdue Polytechnic High School, spoke to the inaugural class of 159 students on their first day of school, July 31, 2017. Before Daniels’s new high school had even completed its first year, the Indianapolis Charter School Board approved the charter’s request to open an additional location.

The second Purdue Polytechnic High School wants to take over the Broad Ripple High School building, one of the schools the IPS board closed just last year. IPS hopes to put the facility on the market for $6 million to $8 million to fill the growing budget hole that led to the closures in the first place. But there are other factors at play that may prevent that, including a current Indiana state law that requires school districts to allow charter schools to lease or buy an empty school building for $1.

Why are treasured public assets being turned over to unproven charter operators against the will of many people in the community?

To read the rest of Darcie’s piece, click here.