An excellent editorial ran in the Indianapolis Star late last week by former IPS School Board President Kelley Bentley, who makes an inarguable point with unique credibility – IPS is a broken system.
Bentley’s piece is published in the midst of an ongoing pattern of actions and statements by the district that shows its commitment – not to the students in its care, but to defending what it views as its rightful monopoly on education within its boundaries.
IPS has engaged in a running feud with area charter schools over funding and enrollment practices. It fought the recent state takeover over several schools by demanding special treatment on how scores were calculated and threatening litigation. Now the district resorts to stonewalling the turnaround operators tasked by the State Board of Education with turning around these schools. IPS officials have long been vocal opponents of voucher programs designed to give students and parents more choices.
While IPS spends significant time and energy seeking to stop the migration of students out of district schools – and therefore preserve its budget and justify its bureaucracy – its academic performance continues to falter. Less than half of IPS students pass Math and English I-STEP requirements. Graduation rates lag the state average by more than twenty percent. And six of the seven schools statewide identified as chronic failures under Indiana law are IPS schools.
Bentley points a finger at a major cause of this mess – the very structure of the traditional urban school district, a ‘command and control’ system where success is too often measured by enrollment and budget figures, not the achievement of students. When you exist within a large bureaucracy, the preservation of that bureaucracy inevitably becomes the primary goal.
Read the editorial here: