“At Least You are in the Picture” - A Father’s Day Reflection

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I traveled to Atlanta, Georgia to visit family and also because I was one of the presenters at The Educator’s Room Teacher Self Care Conference.  My husband and sons traveled with me; below is a brief exchange between my husband and a Lyft driver.

“Man, you have a beautiful family here.”

“I do what I can.”

“At least you are in the picture.”

There is this myth in the black community that black men just roll up to create a baby and roll out, but this is not true.  Like my husband and my dad, there are so many black men that are great fathers but this narrative isn’t shared enough.  Let me tell you about one I see up close every day, my husband Jermaine Barnes.

My husband is an excellent role model for our boys.  He is helping them develop into strong black men in numerous ways.  He is transparent in front of them and shares how he is feeling.  He tells them that he gets angry and tells them that anger is a valid emotion, but he also shows them how to appropriately express anger.  

He teaches them how to advocate for themselves.  He shows them how to be strong, but how to also ask for what you need.  He lets them know that strong black males know when to ask for help.

He shows them how to treat a woman.  He makes them thank me for cooking each meal after they bless it.  He makes it clear there is no woman’s work and chores aren’t only what the wife does.  He does laundry and dishes every week.

 Appalachian Trail - (left to right) JJ, Jermaine Barnes, and JB

Appalachian Trail - (left to right) JJ, Jermaine Barnes, and JB

He shows them how to help others.  He wants them to find their purpose in the world and learn how to give back and lift up others.  He doesn’t want them to miss an opportunity to help.

Last, but not least, he shows up consistently.  He shows up to help with homework.  He takes them to their clubs and activities.  He shows up at parent/teacher conferences. They never doubt that he will be there even though he has a demanding job.

When I asked our boys why they love their dad so much, this is what they said:

JB: I love my dad because he gives me food and he gave me a home.  He makes sure we have electricity, a room, and a bed and he takes us on trips.  

JJ: I love my dad because he cares about me.  I like when he plays Beyblades with us.  He pays for the stuff we need.  He always makes sure we are safe.  I love playing soccer with him.

If I could leave you with this, I want you to uplift fathers especially black fathers.  We have the power to change this negative narrative into a positive narrative.  I believe if we change the narrative, fathers who have stepped out of the picture will have a community of strong fathers to look towards to get back into the picture.

 Three generations - (left to right) Jermaine Barnes, JJ, JB, and James Barnes

Three generations - (left to right) Jermaine Barnes, JJ, JB, and James Barnes

Black with Kids: Representation Matters, so be Intentional about It

Indy/Ed, an education blog that is part of the Citizen/Ed network is adding a new series focusing on parenting black children.  This series will continue indefinitely and highlight the struggles and successes of our writers who are parenting black children.

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When I tell people, I am a teacher, I am typically thanked for serving in this profession and for good measure people normally add how hard my job is and glad they don’t have to do it.  Yes, being a teacher is hard, but it is not my most challenging job.  The most challenging job is being a black parent.  Children don’t come with guidebooks and even if they did, they wouldn’t be able to address navigating the world as a black parent.  

I do the best I can.  I am raising two black identical twin boys.  I want them to have all the opportunities this world has to offer despite the barriers they may have to overcome.  It’s not enough to help them obtain skills or tell them they can do any task, they have to believe it is possible and for many, believing comes by seeing.  For them to believe any profession could be an option for them, they have to see people who look like them in these fields repeatedly.  Making that happen is harder than it seems.  It is more than skin color for my husband and I, we want the people they are exposed to be talented AND black. 

For my husband and I, the best way we have found to make this happen is to be intentional about exposing them to black professionals.  Their pediatrician and dentist are black.  Their principal is black and Asian. They also see us engaging with black professionals.  Our trust and estate lawyer and realtor are black.  We also surround ourselves with successful black professionals.  My husband has black friends who include a human resource manager for a hospital and facilities manager for a college.

They can’t just see these individuals, we also have to talk to them about what they do and how they had to learn their skills in school.  The most important professionals they see are us.  My husband is Senior Database Administrator - Technical Team Lead for the State of Indiana and I’m an educator.  They have been to our jobs more than once and we took them to the college we attended - Boiler up!

Schools can be helpful in promoting college and careers, but many times they don’t do a good job of showing kids of color people in those fields who look like them.  This is the extra burden we have as black parents.  We have to put in the work to help our kids believe the sky is their only limit...since one of our children wants to travel into space, I guess the sky isn’t the limit.

 

Graduation Season: Highlighting Indianapolis High School Graduates - Adyson Gregory

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It's graduation season! Many people are celebrating the accomplishments of high school and college seniors as they embark on the next phases of their lives both personally and academically. I wanted to take a moment and celebrate the accomplishments of two high school seniors in Indianapolis, one from a public charter school and one from a traditional public school. In this first installment, I interviewed Charles A. Tindley Accelerated High School Salutatorian Adyson Gregory.

David McGuire: How does it feel to be a high school graduate?

Adyson Gregory:  I actually don't feel very different than I did as a high school student. If anything, the rush of excitement and surrealism that I felt during my final weeks in school all but evaporated the second I crossed the graduation stage and was holding my diploma. I am still very excited to be a college student obviously, but while I was in high school it was as if I couldn't believe that there was anything after high school and now that I have graduated, I realized that it was just another stage of life as I work towards my success. 

DM:  What about your high school experience would you change?

AG: I would change the structure of my senior year of high school. There was simply too much work and stress as I attempted to cope with the fact that I was a Tindley senior. The work that Tindley commands from their students while expecting that we also balance employment, extracurricular, and college while attempting to write 2-3 five-page essays every two weeks was unreasonable without expecting the students to struggle at least in one aspect of their life and oftentimes we struggled with completing the school work in a timely fashion because we were all focused on applying and paying for college. 

DM: What are your plans now that high school is over?

AG: Now that I have graduated, I have found employment at SubZero Ice Cream and will be acquiring money for college, but I will also be relaxing before starting college. I have been spending time with my friends before we all go our separate ways for school. Once I get to school, I plan on majoring in psychology with minors in Spanish and theatre as I discover who I am, what I love, and what I want to do for the rest of my life.

DM: Why do you feel it is important to go to college after high school?

AG: It was not always a necessity to go to college, but in present society, it is important to obtain that education in order to find the job that you want while making decent money. While it is possible to find jobs without college, most employers are now looking for people who have a quality education. 

DM:  How do you feel your high school prepared you for college?

AG:  Tindley was basically a miniature college, besides the excessive rules. The workload that we had will prepare us as we go to college because we are accustomed to having a large workload and know how to handle it. I am in Purdue's Honors College and I have to complete a Capstone Project to graduate Purdue and fortunately, I spent my entire senior year completing a Capstone Project, so I will be prepared for the work.

DM:  What advice do you have for those juniors who are now high school seniors?

AG: I will tell the juniors to ensure that they do not let senioritis get the best of them. Senioritis is the reason that I went from having only one B my entire life to having three my last semester in high school. Make sure that you don't procrastinate and plan ahead. Make sure you know what deadlines and assignments are coming up so that you are not bombarded with a large workload. 

DM:  In ten years, where do you hope to be and what do you hope to be doing?

AG:  In ten years, I hope to be in the middle of my doctorate degree. I hope that I have a clear vision of what I want to do and I continue to work towards it as I complete my next degree. I want to be someone who has finally left the United States to see the world that God made for us. I want to see more of the world than the city I grew up in and I have faith that that will happen in the next ten years.

Comment

David McGuire

Mr. McGuire is a middle school teacher in Indianapolis, Teach Plus Policy Fellow, and currently enrolled in a doctoral program at Indiana State University for Educational Leadership. Driven by the lack of having an African American male teacher in his classrooms growing up, David helped launched the Educate ME Foundation, which is geared towards increasing the number of African American male teachers in the classroom. A born and raised Hoosier, he is dedicated to improving educational outcomes for all students in Indianapolis. He describes his educational beliefs as a reformer grounded in the best practices of traditional public schools, where he was mentored by strong leaders. David graduated from Central State University with a degree in English and also holds an MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University.

Getting Rid of Standardized Tests Is a Bad Idea

If you are a student in the American public-school system, then you have become familiar with the typical school year format. You learn as much as you can from August to April, then May is reserved for whatever that state’s particular standardized test is.

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Because of the accountability aspect of No Child Left Behind, there is an increased emphasis on standardized testing. The increased emphasis on testing on behalf of the government led to increased emphasis on testing in schools. Some schools responded by teaching testing strategies right before the standardized test period. Others began to “teach to the test”.

This has unsurprisingly, led to a backlash against standardized testing. Many teachers, students, and parents alike have complained about too much testing and schools teaching students just enough to pass the state exams.

While there are legitimate criticisms of standardized testing, the pendulum has now swung completely the other way. Valid critiques about common practices in schools have given way to half-baked notions about using non-conventional testing methods or completely abolishing testing altogether.

Here are few thoughts to consider next time you hear either of these arguments:

1.       Most criticism about testing is really about the test.

90% of the time you see someone complaining about standardized testing what they are really complaining about is the actual test itself. It’s okay if you have a problem with the questions on the ISTEP, but that is fundamentally different than having a problem with standardized testing in general.

2.       Teaching to the test is fine if the test is okay.

To piggyback off the last point, if the test is adequate then it is more than acceptable to teach toward it. When people use the phrase “teach to the test” they typically envision teachers teaching a narrow subset of information that only matters for the test while neglecting other valuable information. The easiest way to get schools to avoid doing this is to revise the exams to cover all the information that we believe to be important for the benchmark. There is nothing wrong with aligning your classroom instruction to standards and in theory that is what the test should be aligned to as well. If we have issues with “teaching to the test” then we really have issues with the standards or there is misalignment.

3.       Accountability is important.

Our public-school system is one of the largest expenses of our government. They must have a way to see if they are getting what they paid for.  Assessment is that way. It may not be a good way, but it is really the only way we currently have. Standardized exams are the only way that we can accurately compare student achievement across different districts and student groups. The government and we the people have the right to know if our students are actually learning the standards that our tax dollars are paying for them to learn. Without such mechanisms, we would throw money at programs that didn’t work. We would replicate methods that weren’t successful. Parents would have little academic data to make decisions about where to send their children.

4.       Punishment is not an inevitable part of assessment.

Many schools worry and complain about the harsh penalties that come along with underperforming on the test, but that really is not about testing itself. That is more about how the government chooses to use those results. Sure, there are more productive actions the government could take because of poor test results other than closing schools and firing teachers, but that is not really an ingrained feature of the test and this can and should be addressed separately.

The standardized testing period is a high stress time for students and teachers alike. We all think our lives would be a little easier without it, and that is probably true, but that doesn’t mean we should completely get rid of it. State assessments have their place. We need to improve the process not abolish it.

Comment

Andrew Pillow

Andrew is a technology teacher at KIPP Indy College Prep. He is graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Teach for America Alum. Andrew just recently finished his commitment as a Teach Plus Policy fellow, and he is looking forward to putting the skills he's learned to good use. Andrew has written for several publications in the past on a wide variety of topics but will be sticking to education for his role on Indy/Ed.

Wayfinder Fellowship Inaugural Winners Announcements: Ashley Virden

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“You have two choices be a part of the solution or be a part of the problem, either way you have the choice”

The caption on their website states, “Women in under-resourced communities are the answer, not the problem. Let’s stop punishing them.” Wayfinder Foundation, a non-profit organization, goal is to provide support to undiscovered leaders in under-resourced communities. They recently launched a fellowship to award grant money to women who have a commitment to community activism in the cities where they live. The inaugural group of 14 women from Indianapolis and Los Angeles represents the next community leaders. This blog will highlight one of those women. Ashley Virden is an Indianapolis Community Activism Grant recipient. She is a single mother of three who believes there is power in storytelling when it comes to advocacy. 

David McGuire: Tell me a little about yourself.

Ashley Virden:   I am single mother of three children ages nine, seven, and four and a proud long-time resident of the Dubarry Park neighborhood located on the far eastside of Indianapolis, IN. I truly care for others like they are part of me and I’m tired of my community being underserved and kept down by policies, practices, and systems that were supposedly created to help us. It took someone else believing in me and pointing out all my great qualities and loving me despite my mess for me to realize that I am an asset and I deserved more out of life. It proved to me that we need a strong village of people who know their worth in order to make the world a better place. No one can do it alone, we must work together if we ever want to see real social change.  

DM: Why are you so passionate about community involvement?

AV:  My community has played a major part in helping me grow into the woman I have become, and has blessed me in so many ways. I am passionate about community involvement because it allows me to pour back into the community all that it has given me while creating the kind of world that I want my children and future generations to see. Someone once told me, “The fruit is not for the tree.” I believe that everything that I have gained throughout my life was placed in me to help encourage and empower others. My neighborhood is not always shown in a positive light, but the more I get involved, the more I see I am surrounded by so many great people and places that often get overlooked. I hope that by interacting with my community and sharing my story that we can come together as a unit and learn how we can use our many assets to lift up our community, as a whole, and erase the negative narrative others have created for us. I love my community and we have so much great potential and I want others to see that as well.

DM: Why did you apply for the fellowship?

AV:  I applied for the fellowship to build valuable relationships with other community activists, increase my capacity as a community leader, and to enable me to better serve and address the needs of my well deserving community.

DM:  What are you hoping to accomplish from the fellowship?

AV:  I am hoping this fellowship can help me become a stronger leader in my community by highlighting my strengths, exposing my weaknesses, and allowing me the opportunity to connect with community leaders and activists all over the country while creating a platform to share my community’s story on a larger scale.

DM:  How do you feel this accomplishment will help you achieve your goals?

AV:  Acknowledging my strengths, addressing my weaknesses, and building relationships will enable me to most effectively advocate for my well deserving community. I am committed to fostering collaboration that empowers neighbors and restores hope for everyone in my community. I plan on doing this by forming an impactful community organization, creating a calendar of events to encourage community engagement, and create a website to highlight all the great things that is happening in my community. Ultimately, I want to let my community and the rest of the world know that the far eastside is not a problem that needs to be fixed, but a community filled with great people and places yet to be discovered and highlighted.

DM:  What impact will your project have on your community?

AV:  There is a fundamental coaching belief that “people are naturally creative, resourceful, and whole.”  Meaning we don’t need to be fixed and we have everything we need inside of us to create change in our lives. I am hoping that my work will show my community that they are not a problem but an asset and help shift their mindsets away from focusing on their problems to how can they enhance what they already have to create better outcomes and see positive change.

DM:  What does it mean to be a community activist?

AV:  Being a community activist is something that you can’t turn on and off. It is working to take the power from the policymakers and putting it in the community's hand. It’s not allowing others to continue to marginalize your community. It’s about taking collective action to create sustainable, equitable and inclusive social change for the greater good of society and improving the quality of life for all.

Be on the lookout for interviews with the other winners from this prestigious fellowship.

Comment

David McGuire

Mr. McGuire is a middle school teacher in Indianapolis, Teach Plus Policy Fellow, and currently enrolled in a doctoral program at Indiana State University for Educational Leadership. Driven by the lack of having an African American male teacher in his classrooms growing up, David helped launched the Educate ME Foundation, which is geared towards increasing the number of African American male teachers in the classroom. A born and raised Hoosier, he is dedicated to improving educational outcomes for all students in Indianapolis. He describes his educational beliefs as a reformer grounded in the best practices of traditional public schools, where he was mentored by strong leaders. David graduated from Central State University with a degree in English and also holds an MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University.

Mental Health Remains Stigmatized in the Black Community While Black Youth Continue to Die from Suicide

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With the recent premiere of season two of Thirteen Reasons Why, a series based on a novel of the same name about a girl who died by suicide, and because Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain died by suicide last week, many discussions have taken place about how people who are struggling with the will to live can seek help and how others can support them.  These conversations reminded me once again the importance of mental health and the stigma around seeking help or being open about struggling with mental health in the black community.  Last October, in my article, “Mental Health Matters Not Just for Students, but for Their Teachers Too,” I talked about my mental health struggles while dealing with an infertility diagnosis and living with chronic pain from endometriosis, a contributing factor to my infertility.  It was hard to cope when people from the black community and the black church were suggesting I wasn’t strong enough or I wasn’t praying hard enough essentially dismissing mental health services as a viable option.  I’m glad I sought out therapy and it did make a difference. 

I was lucky enough to find a therapist who specializes in counseling couples dealing with infertility who also happened to be a black woman.  Even if a black person is bold enough to ignore the voices in the black community telling him or her to be stronger and pray more, that person may not be able to find a therapist that can relate to him or her who also understands the nuances the person has to overcome just to seek treatment as a black person.  I recently read The Mighty article, “Black Children Are at a Higher Risk for Suicide Between the Ages of 5 and 12.”  In the article, Quinn Gee, a licensed psychotherapist in Washington D.C., highlights why representation matters in the mental health profession.

This isn’t to say white therapists can’t be helpful. They just can’t relate to some of the cultural characteristics and experiences of a black client.  It’s important to have “culturally-competent” therapists, Gee said.

“It’s hard for little black kids to relate to an older white man or white woman therapist,” Gee said. “It comes from just ‘you don’t look like me.’”...It’s hard to open up to someone you’ve never had a conversation with and can’t relate to.

This article confirmed what my husband and I have personally experienced during our search to find a therapist for one of our twin sons.  When our sons were four, one struggled in preschool not with academics, but with his behavior.  Then, our search for a therapist began.  The first therapist was a young white woman and my son connected to her, but our insurance would not pay any portion of the services.  The sessions were expensive, so we decided to find a therapist our insurance would cover fully or partially.  

The second therapist was a middle-aged white woman.  My son didn’t warm up to her right away like the previous therapist, but we just thought he needed more time.  When I called to make the third appointment, the therapist said she didn’t think it would work out and even after I asked follow up questions, she wouldn’t elaborate on why.  At the end of the day, if someone tells you he or she doesn’t want to work with your child, you better move on.  

The third therapist was a young white woman and new to the profession.  My son warmed up to her more than therapist number two, but she just seemed to not know what to do.  My husband and I weren’t about to let our child be a guinea pig while she figured it out.  

My son’s current therapist has been his therapist for most of the past school year and she is great.  She is Asian and my son loves her.  She has a comprehensive plan that involves all of us.  At times he attends sessions alone. Other times, he attends sessions with his twin brother (if only she could follow us home and help with their sibling rivalry).  We also have family sessions with all four of us. 

When I recently reflected on my son’s first-grade year in comparison to his kindergarten year with his principal, she shared how different he was this year.  He’s not perfect, but he’s not making comments anymore like, “Nobody likes me” and he’s less worried about being perfect.  My twins boys are on track to potentially be in high ability programming later in elementary school and he struggles with not being able to know everything and not getting everything right even though he is almost a grade level ahead in every subject.  Therapy has helped him find balance and help us support him in maintaining that balance.

He’s seven now, so he has had four therapists in three years.  That was a lot of effort on us as parents.  The Mighty article also states, “Suicide among black children ages 5 to 12 is almost two times higher than the rate among white kids of the same age range,” and knowing this, I get extremely concerned.  There are too many barriers for black families to find a therapist.  You have cost, availability, lack of representation, and negativity and lack of support from the black community.

We need to encourage more black young people in high school to go into the mental health profession and black people need to respect and not tear down other black people who choose to pursue mental health services as an option.  We have fragile people in the black community and our most vulnerable are our black children.  Until we destigmatize mental health, more black children will be lost to suicide. 

If you need support, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text the word “HOME” to 741741 to receive services 24 hours a day from the Crisis Text Line.

Betsy DeVos: Trump’s School Safety Commission Won’t Examine Role of Guns

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So far in 2018, there have been 23 school shootings. That averages out to about one shooting every week. That number will likely remain stagnant as summer break approaches. However, the political pressure and movement to tackle the school violence issue once and for all has already begun with the catalyst being the Parkland, Florida shooting and subsequent activism of the victims.

There was a federal commission on school safety set up after the Parkland shooting. While the central focus of the victims and movement at large has been guns, Betsy DeVos has been mysteriously quiet on the subject herself. Leading some to question if her avoidance of the gun topic was strategic or intentional. 

Tuesday, DeVos more or less confirmed that guns were not something that her or the commission was making a focus. 

DeVos was questioned about whether or not her commission would examine the role of guns in school shootings.  To which she responded, “That’s not part of the commission’s charge, per se.”

So, what exactly is the commission focusing on if not guns? According to DeVos the “focus is on raising up successful, proven techniques and approaches to ensuring schools are safe.”

So far, the commission has focused on:

  • Alternative discipline strategies
  • Violent video games and ratings
  • Media coverage of shootings
  • Obama era policies
  • Mental health
  • Character and culture development

Contrary to DeVos’s claim, the White House says the commission will be examining all possible safety factors including guns, most notably “age restrictions for certain firearm purchases.” 

Department of Education spokesman, Elizabeth Hill, echoes the White House but tempers expectations about gun law changes: 

The secretary and the commission continue to look at all issues the president asked the committee to study and are focused on making recommendations that the agencies, states and local communities can implement,” Hill said. “It’s important to note that the commission cannot create or amend current gun laws — that is the Congress’s job.

The conservative administration finds itself in a tricky balancing act between their conservative pro-gun constituents and the cries from the general public to do something about mass school shootings.

Comment

Andrew Pillow

Andrew is a technology teacher at KIPP Indy College Prep. He is graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Teach for America Alum. Andrew just recently finished his commitment as a Teach Plus Policy fellow, and he is looking forward to putting the skills he's learned to good use. Andrew has written for several publications in the past on a wide variety of topics but will be sticking to education for his role on Indy/Ed.

What’s in a Name? Identity!

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In the play Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, Juliet says to Romeo, “What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”  Juliet is a Capulet and Romeo is a Montague and their families are enemies.  Juliet thinks they both should forget about their names and the implications their names have on their relationship.  Your name is part of who you are and discarding a name and ignoring the implications can be problematic...if you don’t believe me, read the play.

This is why I find the actions of former Brownsburg High School Orchestra teacher John Kluge problematic.  Brownsburg Community School Corporation in Brownsburg, Indiana requires staff to call transgender students by their prefered names.  As reported by Indy Star, Kluge stated, "I’m being compelled to encourage students in what I believe is something that's a dangerous lifestyle," he said. "I’m fine to teach students with other beliefs, but the fact that teachers are being compelled to speak a certain way is the scary thing."

Calling a student by his or her name is not promoting a lifestyle; it is being respectful.  Too many young people are struggling; they’re depressed and even suicidal and an action of one person could send a child over the edge.

About half-way through my career, I learned a student in the school where I taught was transgender.  This child was not my student but his friends were.  I didn’t even know the student was transgender until later in the school year.  It never crossed my mind to find out what name was written on the student’s birth certificate to refer to the student by that name or to only refer to the student by his surname like Kluge chose to do for all his students whether or not they were transgendered to avoid following district policy.

People’s names represent who they are regardless if is a nickname, birth name, or a self-assigned name.  Teachers have to remember their actions have consequences.  Kluge was informed that he could no longer use last names and he chose to resign.  Now, he fighting the resignation saying it was post dated.  That’s like giving someone a post-dated check and being surprised the person cashed it and accepted the money.

The bottom line is Kluge wasn’t comfortable with the district’s policy and chose not to follow it.  This policy is in place to protect transgender students and acknowledge them as an accepted part of the community.  Time and time again, my students have made choices I don’t agree with, but that doesn’t stop me from showing them respect.

IPS Leaders Reduce Referendum Ask from $200 to $52 Million

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Three months ago, Indianapolis Public Schools made headlines by announcing their intention to ask taxpayers for $200 million. The potential referendum was met with skepticism and controversy. Today, IPS leaders are revising their initial request.

Indianapolis Public Schools’ leadership has now significantly reduced their request to only $52 million. The money would come from a property tax increase and the vote for that increase would be placed on the November ballot.

IPS Chief of Staff, Ahmed Young says the previous request was revised to be more affordable for taxpayers. This was done by cutting some of the priorities from the original $200 million ask.

“There were really difficult decisions that ultimately had to be made. We had to think about it from a holistic standpoint,” said Young.

The new top priorities of the referendum are school safety measures and renovations and facility upgrades. 

The chart below shows the total breakdown of the two main categories:

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Considering the reduced ask and the national focus on school safety, this referendum looks to have a much better chance of passing than the previous one did.

To see a full breakdown of exactly what each school will receive click here.

 

Comment

Andrew Pillow

Andrew is a technology teacher at KIPP Indy College Prep. He is graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Teach for America Alum. Andrew just recently finished his commitment as a Teach Plus Policy fellow, and he is looking forward to putting the skills he's learned to good use. Andrew has written for several publications in the past on a wide variety of topics but will be sticking to education for his role on Indy/Ed.

Ethnic Studies Course Feedback is Needed

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While I was studying to become a teacher at Purdue University, some of my courses emphasized the importance of incorporating students’ culture, history, and background into lesson plans.  More schools are being intentional about ensuring the curriculum represents the students in the school.  Some states such as California, Oregon, and Indiana are taking it a step further by passing legislation requiring schools to offer ethnic studies courses; I believe this is long overdue.

IDOE is seeking public feedback on the Indiana ethnic studies course draft.  The draft focuses on four standards:

  • Standard 1 – Cultural Self-Awareness

  • Standard 2 – Cultural Histories within the U.S. Context and Abroad

  • Standard 3 – Contemporary Lived Experiences and Cultural Practices

  • Standard 4 – Historical and Contemporary Contributions

All Indiana high schools must offer the course, but it will not be a graduation requirement.  

Ethnic studies courses are not only beneficial for minorities, but for all students.  The history of many ethnic groups in school curriculum is whitewashed and leaves out the minority perspective.  People part of one ethnic group may have incorrect views about another ethnic group because whitewashed history is the only history they have learned.  What would be worse is for an ethnic studies course to be offered and it does not contain the lessons needed to help students, our future leaders, to become self-aware about their culture, to learn how to think critically about history, and to be open to the perspectives, beliefs, and traditions of people different than themselves.

Although I wish this was a mandatory course, requiring all high schools to offer the course is a good first step.  The public has through Friday, June 8 to provide feedback. After completing the form, additional questions and comments can be sent to Davis Moore MPA, IDOE Trade & Industry Specialist, at dmoore@doe.in.gov or 317-232-0512.