Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Two Education Reforms No One is Talking About

A week or two ago, there was an event held called Five Mayors. Mayor Greg Ballard and his four immediate predecessors (Richard Lugar, Bill Hudnut, Steve Goldsmith, Bart Peterson) gathered at the University of Indianapolis and answered questions about the city's past, present, and future. One of the things that I noticed was Peterson plainly stated that Indianapolis Public Schools, the school corporation that serves within the old city limits, should be under control of the Mayor's office. If I recall the news reports correctly, several of the other mayors agreed with his sentiment.

I'd go a step further. Let's put all township schools within the Marion County limits, and IPS, under the purview of the Mayor's office and the City-County Council.

One of the most important services municipal government provides to it's citizens is basic K-12 education. And to hear that the head of city government, and your representatives on the county legislative body, has very little to do with that service is just astounding. Currently, school boards are not accountable to the citizens, so we need a firewall to prevent school boards from going out of control.

Speaking of school boards, there's the other action we can take, right now, and at least improve awareness. Right now, school boards are non-partisan elections held every 4 years in the "off" year election (between Presidential elections) during the May primary. On top of that, you have to request a separate ballot.

So not only is it held in a low turnout year, but it's held during a primary, which makes it even lower in turnout.

We need to move these school board elections to the general election, and somehow find a way to put it on the same ballot. This will at least increase involvement and awareness. It might even get some of these political or interest groups that host meet-the-candidate forums to get involved and host some involving school board members and candidates.

Sure, I have opinions on vouchers and school choice and all that garbage. But why be the thousandth dude in the room to give the same opinion when the simplest actions haven't been taken?


  1. A bill to move school board elections to the fall was introduced and had passed I believe one chamber. Not sure where it is. Right now school districts can move the election to the fall if they want....but of course they don't want that because they prefer a much lower turnou.

  2. The school board elections are held in May to provide cover for the state paying to hold the primaries, which are totally a party function. Government has no interest or stake in the primaries, so if the school board elections were held in the fall, the parties would have to pay for their own danceoff.

  3. Absolutely no way shape or form should the schools be under the control of the Mayor. NOT AT ALL. That makes them political footballs to be kicked around! We can see what's happening with the Republicans at the state level right now. NO NO NO...BAD, Destructive idea.

  4. But right now, Jon, there is little to no accountability to school districts. We see this ridiculous retirement package given to Terry Thompson of Wayne Township that went unnoticed for 4 years by mainstream media, and there's no shortage of troubles at IPS that need serious oversight. Right now, some school boards (not all, but some) are failing at their duties, and there needs to be some form of oversight.

    Of course my proposed plan rests on the assumption that our CCC would actually exercise some control over these school boards. But I bet their control would be similar to what happens when they view the proposed budgets from agencies such as the CIB: rubber stamp.

  5. PFFFF...No accountability! Right! Yeah...schools have no accountability. Tell that to the principals that are under PL 221 pressure or NCLB pressure.

    Listen, the CCC has enough to do. If you want bad schools, increase the size of the bureaucracy and make them political! Yeah...that will work.


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