A report brought to us by The Mind Trust on how the City planned to transform public schools in Indianapolis. We’re revisiting the content on the five-year anniversary of its publication.
The Mind Trust’s ideas are ambitious. But we need bold actions if we are going to provide Indianapolis children with what they deserve: a world-class education. When only 45% of students pass the ISTEP+ in English language arts and math, only 58% graduate, and six of the seven most chronically failing schools in the state are in Indianapolis Public Schools, it’s time to think big. Generations of skilled leaders and educators have done their best to fix broken urban school systems in Indianapolis and across the country. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in “reform.” Not much has worked.
Instead of trying yet again to “fix the school system,” let’s unleash the talent and creativity of our best educators to create schools that we know will help students learn. We’re calling this new kind of school an Opportunity School because that’s exactly what it offers: a unique opportunity to transform IPS, children’s lives, and our city’s future.
Our plan is based on more than a year of extensive research and analysis. It would eliminate topdown district regulations that now control curriculum, staffing, and budgets — and prevent teachers and principals from doing their best work. It encourages new schools to open and flourish. It would forge exciting new partnerships. It would replace business as usual with innovative approaches drawn from the best research, ideas, and practices from around the country. Above all, it would create the conditions that have enabled high-performing schools (district and public charter) to help low-income students make inspiring academic progress: graduation and college enrollment rates consistently above 90%.