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City-County
Council president Maggie Lewis shared her support for the positive changes and
innovation at IPS in an opinion piece with the
Indianapolis Recorder on April 7, 2016. Below is
the repurposed letter.

 

By MAGGIE A. LEWIS @MaggieALewis

For
many years, Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) has faced criticism from our
community about schools that are not adequately preparing our children for success.
The criticism includes decreased graduation rates, poor standardized test
scores and the lack of academic progress over the years, all of which have been
well documented and shared openly with families throughout the community.

 

Fortunately
for Indianapolis, it is a new day in IPS. After decades of well-meaning
attempts to improve the district, I can confidently say IPS is on a path toward
meaningful and long-term change. The change throughout will positively impact
our children by preparing them to compete among their peers, not only
throughout our state and nation, but also in the world.

 

But
change is often difficult to embrace. Effective change requires risk. Most of
all, change is frightening at times. But we owe it to our babies to set our fears
aside and take the risk, that leap of faith to ensure each and every one of
them receives the quality education they deserve.

 

Our
children are suffering while we, the adults, argue relentlessly about which
education methods will serve them best. The world has changed. Teaching methods
have changed. Laptop computers and tablets have replaced chalkboards and
overhead projectors. What worked for us when we were growing up is outdated,
and we need to recognize this. We need to empower our schools and those who
have made the commitment to educate our children. After all, we didn’t make the
decision to pursue a career in education; they did. So shouldn’t we give them
our support and allow them to focus on the business of educating our children?

 

I
applaud Superintendent Dr. Lewis D. Ferebee and the IPS Board for stepping out
of the box and having the courage to shake up the status quo. They have been
visionary leaders who have not been afraid to make tough decisions in order to
bring IPS into the 21st century and provide better opportunities for the
children of this city.

 

For
the past 15 years, much of the local discussion about school improvement has
focused on charter schools. While charter schools have succeeded in
Indianapolis and remain a promising way to inject innovation into education,
Innovation Network Schools provide another excellent pathway to raising student
achievement in Indianapolis.

 

Innovation
Network Schools are autonomous public schools that operate within IPS but are
exempt from IPS administrative rules and many state regulations, giving them
the autonomy that is the hallmark of high-performing schools. They allow IPS to
take the lead role in transforming its own schools, while also recruiting some
of the brightest minds in our community and the nation to be a part of the
solution. 

 

So please join me on this journey as we strive
to find solutions to educate our babies. They deserve the best, and we owe it
to them.