Rep. Ed DeLaney offers synopsis of forum focusing on future of Broad Ripple High School

August 10, 2017 Ed DeLaney

INDIANAPOLIS – Rep. Ed DeLaney (D-Indianapolis) today issued the following synopsis of a public forum he held last night (Wed., Aug. 9). Also linked below is a video of the forum posted on Rep. DeLaney’s Facebook page:

I very much enjoyed the public forum I held last night, August 9, dealing with the future of Broad Ripple High School and the impact of state legislation on IPS. We had a good 40 or 50 people in attendance and several hundred watching on Facebook. Dr. Ferebee was most gracious with his time and he answered all questions and comments.

Let me list the most important things that I learned from this experience.

1. My constituents are troubled by the lack of stability in the IPS system as it relates to high schools. They detailed the multiple changes in facilities and programs that have occurred in recent years and the impact of the closing of Broad Ripple and 2 other high schools. The continued flux of teachers, buildings, and programs is interfering with support for IPS high schools. It’s noted that Broad Ripple would be closed although it is at or near the top of ratings for IPS high schools.

2. My constituents are troubled by the large number of charter schools, which have drawn away thousands of IPS students. Dr. Ferebee seems to focus almost exclusively on serving the 5,000 students in our high schools and seems reluctant to criticize or openly compete with charter schools. We have only 5,000 pupils in our IPS high schools out of some 11,000-12,000 students residing in the district. This contrast in approach between the public and the District leads some people to reject the possibility of replacing IPS at Broad Ripple High with any charter school, no matter how good. I am struggling with this dilemma.

3. The IPS proposal for high schools would completely eliminate the idea of neighborhood schools. Geographically, all high schools would be in one Township, Center, while the District is in 7 townships, especially Washington, Lawrence, Warren and Wayne. A high school would be defined by its programs e.g. STEM, or say, an arts magnet. Such programs might continue to be relocated. This would mean that students would essentially pick programs, not schools. The concept of “alma mater” would become outdated. The District would become “all choice” meaning that all students would be led to pick a school and a program. Currently, only 60 percent express a preference. Those who do not are currently assigned a school based on geography. The net effect is that even the most uncertain 14-year-old would need to pick an educational focus no matter how unsure (or indifferent) they were. This is in response to Dr. Ferebee’s reasoned perception that in today’s world any IPS school without a focus is considered to be “Plan B.” (Interestingly, schools such as North Central and Carmel that do not have charter competition try to maintain a broad reputation for competence. Perhaps that is because they do not face competition from charter schools that give themselves lofty titles suggesting success and a solid focus.)

4. While most of the discussion focused on IPS it was clear that constituents are concerned that the impact of charters has been felt negatively in IPS. The charters are issued by multiple groups to schools that often compete but don’t perform well academically. Concepts like Innovation Schools are known to exist but are poorly understood, if at all. In short, charters, vouchers and experimental programs lead to more confusion and instability for students without any central organization bearing responsibility for the “system’s” success.

Thank you once again to Dr. Ferebee and all of the IPS representatives that were able to attend our forum. Thank you to the IPS Board Commissioners that joined us, and a special thanks to all of the citizens that participated and asked very good questions.

To view video of this public forum, please click the image below: