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Validator Quotes

Explore our collection of validator quotes from community leaders, educators, and parents on the capital referendum for Indianapolis Public Schools. These individuals have recognized the potential impact of this initiative on improving the educational experience for students in our area. Discover their insights and perspectives on the importance of investing in our local schools.

  • Gordon Lee Joslin – IPS Alumni

    I taught in IPS for 40 years! What has happened to the teaching of the fine arts in elementary and junior high schools? How is the funding of art supplies applied to the budget? I would love for the arts to be as great as it was when I taught 1969-2009!

    Some students are not athletic as I was growing up on the farm in rural Indiana! My High School teacher inspired me to do art and become an art teacher! I have many, many past students who are parents, grandparents, friends and other teachers still contact me on Facebook and remember my art teaching with great joy of the arts in our present schools!

  • Jeffrey Terry, IPS Alumni

    IPS Board of School Commissioners and Superintendent Dr. Aleesia Johnson:

    As a proud alumnus of Indianapolis Public Schools, I am writing to share my full support for the district’s Rebuilding Stronger plan and for the ways you need to fund the plan — through both capital and operating referendums.

    I come from a long generational line of IPS alumni. I personally attended IPS schools from kindergarten through high school. Those years in IPS remain fond memories, ones that I often talk about — especially with other IPS alumni. We discuss the “good old days” in IPS when we dominated in academics, athletics, and in school and district pride. We were all proud to be IPS students and we’re even prouder to be IPS alumni.

    We want that same experience for today’s students in all IPS schools, and I know we can get there with the Rebuilding Stronger Plan.

    Continue to stay the course with this plan — even through the opposition you’re receiving. That opposition is a clear indication that you’re doing the right thing for IPS students and are on the right path to achieving excellence for all students again. We MUST do whatever it takes to stay on task.

    I’m excited to see the new and improved IPS, the one where all students are excelling, sporting events are packed with supporters, and students have a variety of ways of expressing themselves through art, music, theater, etc. I know you can imagine it, too.

    Let’s work together to make Rebuilding Stronger a reality.

    Jeff Terry,

    Northwest High School, Class of 1982.

    P.S.: My army of alumni from all schools are ready to help in the fight. L

  • Jeremy A. Morris, IPS Alumni

    “As a proud IPS graduate of Broad Ripple High School, words cannot express how excited I am about Superintendent Johnson’s Rebuilding Stronger Plan. I firmly believe this plan is one that will achieve great results and positively impact the lives of students across central Indiana. As IPS alumni, we are engaged and active in wanting to improve our beloved school district. Superintendent Johnson has created a pathway and a solid plan that will lead us into the next phase of advancing IPS forward. Rebuilding Stronger is necessary and I put my full support behind it and ask that you do as well.”

  • Taeven Antoinette Barnes, Lew Wallace School 107, IPS

    “I have worked through and in support of many Superintendents in my time with IPS. There has been struggle and much talk to get through needed progress. We are living in a time of ‘Now.’ Our students can’t afford for us to keep hiding behind what’s comfortable. Real change is supported by hard work and sacrifice — not just comfortable talk. I believe that Dr. Aleesia Johnson and her team have put in that work for us to finally see more equitable outcomes for the students we serve with the Rebuilding Stronger Plan. Yes, it comes with sacrifice and changes. But looking at history, all real efforts for equity and change were met with sacrifices we’ll never know. This is our time. It’s a time of ‘Now!’ If we truly want what’s best for all of our students, we must take action to support these referendums!”

  • La Keisha Jackson, councilor, City of Indianapolis

    “I believe that the state of the capital building needs for IPS has been antiquated, insufficient and lacking the tools and technology that our students need to perform at that maximum capacity to be successful. In addition, many of the schools and the existing plans don’t provide equitable education opportunities in learning opportunities that should be offered for all students. I know people don’t want a tax increase and I agree. However, in this instance I do support the IPS Rebuilding Stronger Plan so that these students can be the best scholars and have the most equitable advantages as their Township Scholars utilizing similar referendums in the past.”

  • Zachary Perry

    Stop destroying our public schools. Stop giving our schools over to the corporate jackals who seek to privatize every aspect of the community. The lack of oversight in charter schools is a detriment to the well-being of every citizen within our school district. Anyone on the board who took money, received campaign support, or an endorsement from RISE Indy should be capital A. S. H. A. M. E. D. Stop giving into the cackling vultures of avarice and serve the people of Indianapolis.

  • Jon Nolen, IPS Parent

    We are an IPS family. We are strongly opposed to any money from the upcoming funding referendum being split with charter schools in the district that are not serving IPS students directly. The argument that charters are somehow serving IPS students by siphoning resources and students away from the district is ridiculous. Charters do not serve IPS students they server charter students. I am more than happy to fund true public education, and I believe IPS is the only organization in Center Township providing that.

  • Michelle Pleasant, IPS Parent

    My name is Michelle Pleasant and I am a parent of a student at George Julian School 57. I am submitting my public comment today to speak against sharing referendum funds with non IPS schools. Our focus and funding should be supporting IPS schools and the successful implementation of the Rebuilding Stronger plan. I want to see the investment of public funds in public schools. Schools that can be held accountable to IPS. Splitting those funds outside of our schools without oversight or control is irresponsible. We need to see that the money is spent purposefully and intentionally to meet the needs of the students we serve in IPS. Thank you for your time.

  • Tara Elder

    I have two students that attend George Julian School 57. Our family intentionally chose our public neighborhood school because our family believes publicly funded education is the best way for our family and our community as a whole to learn and grow as a society. I wholeheartedly oppose the sharing of the proposed referendum dollars with charter schools. This would be another step in our city moving toward the privatization of education. Charter schools are held to different standards than public schools and their use of funds lack transparency and accountability.

    My largest concern lies with groups like RISE Indy, The Mind Trust and Stand for Children infiltrating our educational system and pushing for education privatization. I do not understand why a single IPS Board member would be in favor of sharing these funds with charter schools. The public voted for the 2018 referendum without any talk of the money being shared with charter schools. These organizations are bullying the IPS board into being concerned that it would not pass this time without the charter inclusion. I beg you all to stand up for what you know is right for our city and our school system. A vote to share these referendum dollars is a vote to continue to privatize education.

  • Jim Grim IUPUI

    As a homeowner taxpayer in the IPS district for 36 years, I wish to support the IPS proposal to fund only the schools the district has formal relationships with for the education of Indianapolis children. Just because a public school exists within the IPS district does not mean it is entitled to potential referendum tax dollars. Quite the opposite. These very schools already deplete the district of revenue through per-pupil tuition granted to them and no longer going to our Indianapolis Public Schools. Rather than shame the district for not sharing in potential referendum dollars, the non-district public schools should take it up with their legislators, the very people who caused this problem in the `first place by setting up the system we experience today. IPS should not be shamed for retaining some level of accountability for the proposed referendum tax dollars. Thus, I fully support IPS in this proposal.

  • Kathy Lause

    Indianapolis Public Schools, Rousseau McClellan Montessori 91

    Through Rebuilding Stronger, I am excited we will be able to expand the Montessori option in the district and offer this program in a part of the city where it has not been available previously. More students, specifically on the south side, will have access to the methods of this whole child-centered, hands-on philosophy. Funding through the referendum will help make this amazing, equitable opportunity possible.

  • Carole Smith Craig

    I am Carole Smith Craig, of Craig Leadership Services, LLC. I graduated from IPS Crispus Attucks High School as Salutatorian in 1962.

    I am, hereby, urging the Indianapolis Public School Board to approve the Operating Referendum resolution being presented by IPS Superintendent Aleesia Johnson.

    This approval is being requested based on the following:

    1. As a former Human Resources Director for IPS, I know the challenges involved in trying to keep pace with a competitive pay structure for all of a school district’s employees. IPS through its previous referendum was able to `inally achieve a degree of parity when compared to the other districts of central Indiana. IPS has now come closer and closer to an equitable pay structure for its teachers and other staff, due to the `inancial bene`its of the 2018 referendum. However, each year brings about a greater need to be more and morecompetitive in order to recruit and retain the most quali`ied personnel. This referendum would address that.

    2. As a former student and educator with IPS, I know the importance of having the best in terms of course offerings and accompanying resources for each of the children of the district. These offerings should be irrespective of the color of the skin of that child and irrespective of the school to which that child is attending. Unfortunately, data demonstrates that more children of color and more lower income children are experiencing the least opportunities for these offerings based upon the school these children attend. This has resulted in an inequitable education for so many of the IPS children.

    This referendum would address that.

    3. As an educator, I witnessed over many years the serious impact student mobility has had on so many of our children; resulting in those children not receiving consistency in their education for one year, or in many cases, for several years; therefore, putting those children on a path for student failure.

    This referendum will address that.

    4. Due to the dramatic changes already being implemented by the current IPS leadership, more and more IPS children are demonstrating success, as can be seen with the recent IPS graduation rates compared to surrounding districts and other districts throughout Indiana. However, these academic results are still less than satisfactory. Only through having the most effective educators, necessary resources in the most welcoming school buildings, with a very engaged and rigorous curriculum, can we see greater results. This referendum will address that.

    Approving this referendum comes down to an equity issue. All IPS children deserve the best that we can provide.

  • Joanne Puckett

    Parent (IPS/Butler Laboratory School 60)

    I’m a parent of a 7th and 3rd grader in IPS and have been committed to public education. I volunteer weekly in my 3rd grader’s class and can tell you that the hour I spend there is a drop in the bucket of what IPS kids need. The Board must approve the Operating

    Referendum resolution for the following reasons:

    – Teachers and staff should be paid more competitively for what they do – that is a rallying cry EVERYONE needs to get behind

    – Students need more and equal access to all resources across the district. I’m grateful for the opportunities for my children to have art, theater and music, as well as athletic programs and advanced math, and despite all of the attempts to remove these options from schools, there is plenty of evidence of their utility

    – Families need to have options for schools led by administrators that are held accountable for spending, standards, and discipline and reflect the needs of the communities in which they are located

    – Everyone is best served by IPS’s success – and we need to invest in students to give them a solid foundation for the rest of their lives, whether they stay in Indianapolis or not

    I understand there are a number of organizations seeking to open schools in Indianapolis and request funding from the referendum dollars. I urge the Board to only allow schools willing to be part of IPS’s innovation/affiliated programs to have access to these dollars.

  • Tony Mason

    Indianapolis Urban League

    January 27, 2023

    Board of School Commissioners Indianapolis Public Schools 120 East Walnut Street Indianapolis, IN 46204

    Dear Commissioners,

    The Indianapolis Urban League (IUL) is writing you today to express its wholehearted and unequivocal support for the Indianapolis Urban Schools (IPS) Referendum and its Rebuilding Stronger program.

    IUL also supports IPS’ Board policy decision that referendum funds be limited to schools over which IPS has direct accountability. Just as no business would be expected to share its revenues with other businesses or competitors of which it has no oversight or accountability, IPS should not be criticized for its prudent managerial decision in this regard. IPS recently adjusted its proposed operating referendum to provide its innovation charter school partners with per pupil funding and should be acknowledged and commended for its `lexibility in this regard.

    The true challenge facing IPS and other public schools in general is chronic underfunding from the Indiana General Assembly. By eliminating property tax revenues to fund education, the State of Indiana’s legislature has hamstrung economically challenged school districts, statewide. IPS has shown incremental improvement since the previous referendum and needs the support of our community and our civic, corporate and government leadership to “Rebuilds Stronger” and to educate graduates who are prepared for post-secondary education and training and succeed in jobs in today’s economy. If we are

    to attract and retain talent to `ill current and new jobs emerging in Indianapolis, this investment must occur now! If we are to secure new and bigger economic opportunities including companies bringing more jobs with livable wages to Indianapolis and Central Indiana, this investment must occur now! We will fail to sustain and grow our local, regional and state economies, if we fail to investment in IPS now!

    The Indianapolis Urban League urges the community to support IPS and not delay critical funding and `flexibility that Rebuilding Stronger will bring to IPS, students, parents, and the community. We have a choice, so let’s choose to support IPS now!

    Sincerely, Tony Mason

    President & CEO Indianapolis Urban League

  • Elizabeth “Beth” White myself/IPS parent

    I strongly encourage the IPS Board to approve the resolution to put the referendum question to the voters in May. I am an IPS parent, a homeowner/taxpayer in the IPS district, and a former member of the IPS Education Foundation. I know about the challenges that are faced by a district like IPS, and I also know the constitutional tax caps are an unfair burden on governmental units in Indiana. I am willing to pay more in taxes to support our schools, not just because I directly benefit (with a child in the district), but because we all benefit when the traditional public schools are strong and well-resourced. IPS students of today are the workforce, innovators, leaders, and taxpayers of tomorrow. I want our City to grow and provide opportunity for these students. I want the brightest and best to stay here, raise their families and send their kids to IPS. This will only happen if we provide the resources necessary to attract, train and retain the best teachers, school leaders and staff; provide world class facilities and supplies; and expose IPS students to enrichment opportunities like athletics, the arts, and travel. All of this requires taxpayer support. I support IPS, and I support this referendum. PLEASE vote yes for our kids and our future.

  • Samuel Odle

    Bose Public Affairs Group

    I support the IPS referendums.

    I have served on the IPS board of commissioners and understand `firsthand how difficult it is to meet the needs of traditional IPS students and also consider the needs of all students in the geographic district served by multiple other public education providers.

    I believe the Board and Administrators have made their best effort. While not perfect it moves IPS forward. Adequate buildings and excellent staff.

    I hope it also inspires our community and State to wake up to the fact that all of our K-12 public schools need additional funding to accomplish their mission and assure a well educated citizenry and workforce for the future.

  • Shaneka Pedersen

    Parent of 2 children at IPS

    My name is Shaneka Pedersen, I am a parent of 2 children at IPS CFI 27 and a community partner with IPS.

    I am writing to urge the Board to approve the Operating Referendum resolution. I support the operating referendum proposal as it will support competitive pay for teachers and provide the much-needed support to the staff.

    Approving this referendum will create more opportunities for students that some don’t have today, including foreign language, algebra, music, art, and athletics. This referendum will create more stable school communities and allow more families to choose the school that best `its for them. The academic gains the district has made over the past three years will continue if the operating referendum is approved. IPS needs to be successful for Indianapolis to be successful. Our students are worth and deserve the investment.

    While the Rebuilding Stronger does what the community most values — and the operating referendum will help the district deliver what our students deserve.

    We have an opportunity to do what is right by our students and failing to pass the operating referendum would be a massive loss for IPS students and our community.

    IPS should not be held responsible for sharing operating referendum funds with charter schools not affiliated with the district. — There is no accountability for those schools and how they would spend those dollars.

    Sincerely, Shaneka Pedersen

  • John Thompson, Thompson Distribution Company

    Rebuilding Stronger and the capital and operating referendums are an investment in Indianapolis Public Schools, its students, teachers and staff. It is also an investment in the city of Indianapolis.

    When you make an investment educationally in children, you also make an investment in the city’s future workforce.

    The plan by IPS Superintendent Dr. Aleesia Johnson has been developed with more than a year’s worth of community engagement. It’s a plan that’s grounded in what we as a community have requested.

    This plan ensures that every student has access to an excellent education and is ready for the next phase of their lives – whether that is as students in our city and state’s colleges and universities, or in factories, board rooms or business offices.

    Rebuilding Stronger is an investment we cannot afford to lose.

  • Taeven Antoinette Barnes, Lew Wallace School 107, IPS

    “I have worked through and in support of many Superintendents in my time with IPS. There has been struggle and much talk to get through needed progress. We are living in a time of ‘Now.’ Our students can’t afford for us to keep hiding behind what’s comfortable. Real change is supported by hard work and sacrifice — not just comfortable talk. I believe that Dr. Aleesia Johnson and her team have put in that work for us to finally see more equitable outcomes for the students we serve with the Rebuilding Stronger Plan. Yes, it comes with sacrifice and changes. But looking at history, all real efforts for equity and change were met with sacrifices we’ll never know. This is our time. It’s a time of ‘Now!’ If we truly want what’s best for all of our students, we must take action to support these referendums! Look at all that has been accomplished. We need to see it through. This is Indiana. So I feel like you’ll get it. This is not the time to just dribble the ball; taking a shot here and there. Hoping maybe, that just maybe, if we run the clock, we might just get a win.

    We finally have someone who is not afraid to take it down the middle and Slam Dunk for the win! What are we doing if we aren’t supporting Rebuilding Stronger?

  • Jeremy A. Morris, IPS Alumni

    “As a proud IPS graduate of Broad Ripple High School, words cannot express how excited I am about Superintendent Johnson’s Rebuilding Stronger Plan. I firmly believe this plan is one that will achieve great results and positively impact the lives of students across central Indiana. As IPS alumni, we are engaged and active in wanting to improve our beloved school district. Superintendent Johnson has created a pathway and a solid plan that will lead us into the next phase of advancing IPS forward. Rebuilding Stronger is necessary and I put my full support behind it and ask that you do as well.”

    On a personal note, it truly saddens me to see the lack of funding for IPS. The perception nowadays is one cannot be successful attending an IPS – this is clearly not true. I can name countless scholars, lawyers, doctors, engineers, educators, community activist, writers, actors, playwrights… I can go on and on but we have to ensure there will be more IPS graduates added to this list of leaders in these respective fields. One way to ensure this is to support this plan that looks at the bigger picture in a realistic way with a realistic plan and approach.

    I am who I am because of the education and support I had while attending Broad Ripple High School… and we want the same for this generation and all those that follow.

    Jeremy Morris, BRHS Class of 2000

    Jeremy A. Morris, Senior Counsel

    Litigation / Compliance, Investigations & White Collar Defense Taft Law

    One Indiana Square, Suite 3500

    Indianapolis, Indiana 46204-2023