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Indianapolis Public Schools Commissioner proposes new strategy to address racial disparities

New contract gives IPS teachers raises, bonuses
Posted at 10:51 AM, Jun 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-26 14:16:02-04

Editor's Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that IPS was behind the new proposal. It has since been updated to reflect that IPS Commissioner Venita Moore is behind the proposal.

INDIANAPOLIS — A new strategy to address racial inequities for Indianapolis Public Schools' Black students and parents has been informally proposed to the school's board by IPS Commissioner Venita Moore.

Moore announced her new plan to create a more "equitable and inviting learning environment for all students" on Thursday.

In her proposal, Moore notes that the declining graduation rates and increased suspension and expulsion rates for African American students should be a crisis to the district.

According to IPS, the 2019 to 2020 school year demographic information shows that 73.4% of IPS students are children of color with 42.3% being Black and 31.1% Hispanic. Still, children of color make up 79% of in-school suspensions, 84% of out-of-school suspensions, and 86% of expulsions.

"As an IPS School Commissioner, it is my obligation to ensure students have a high-quality education, can achieve, and take their place as valued adults in our community," Commissioner Moore stated in a release. "We want the same for all our students, but it makes me angry when I know that Black IPS students - who are most of our students - face discrimination, racism, and structural barriers in our society that may forever hold them back," she added.

Moore's proposed strategy in addressing the racial inequities includes the three following protocols for the district:

1. Work alongside IPS Superintendent Aleesia Johnson and district leadership to address the disproportionate suspension and expulsions rates and develop a report and action plan for community review within the next 90 days;

2. Require all IPS police officers attend racial equity training and ensure all public safety policies and contracts outwardly communicate that IPS prohibits the employment of any officer, regardless of position, who has a verified use of excessive force record or discrimination complaint.

3. Launch a district-wide curriculum review to include civil rights education and training for students. Similar to the Colin Kaepernick Initiative [knowyourrightscamp.com], IPS students will gain an understanding of their civil rights and how to advocate for themselves both inside and outside of the classroom.

"The violence and racism I see targeting our black and brown students can no longer go unanswered. In our city, our state, our nation and around the globe, people are marching and protesting and demanding change," Moore stated. "But the time for talk alone has ended - people continue to die needlessly, and unlawfully - while talk continues. It's time to take action because when people are being held down, there is no choice but to fight for freedom. I am committing to making change."