Parents affiliated with Stand For Children, the local chapter of a national group that advocates for educational change, presented Indianapolis Public School Board members and Superintendent Lewis Ferebee with 1,000 signatures today endorsing the group’s agenda for overhauling the district.
Stand For Children earlier this spring called for a better strategy for hiring and retaining the best principals, opening more schools run in partnership with charter schools or other outside groups, greater autonomy for schools, cutting central office spending to direct more money to the classroom and a broader system for sharing information and data about both district and charter schools for parents seeking to navigate their options.
Justin Ohlemiller, Stand’s executive director, said during a short press conference outside the IPS administration building that the goal is to improve schools attended by more than 15,000 students in the district that are rated a D or F.
“That’s more than half the children in IPS,” he said. “It takes partners to get this done.”
Cynecqua Goodridge, mother of a School 103 student and a Stand For Children activist, argued the group’s recommendations would improve the district.
“I was on the committee that created this series of recommendations,” she said. “We are calling for specific steps to be included in the new IPS strategic plan that will ensure a great principal in every school, a great teacher in every classroom, a great school in every neighborhood and a great support system for parents.”
After Ohlemiller, Goodridge and a second IPS parent, Evelyn Barreuto, spoke, about 30 parents, students and others wearing Stand For Children T-shirts marched dramatically into the building to deliver the petitions to a waiting Ferebee and IPS school board members Diane Arnold and Mary Ann Sullivan as TV cameras rolled. The 1,000 signatures were collected both in person and via online petitions.
The board’s strategic plan should be finished in August, Ferebee said, and parent input will factor into it.
“We’re very fortunate to have this feedback,” he said, “especially from our parents.”