Monday, May 16, 2005

Detroit leads Indianapolis--and I'm not talking about the NBA

Indianapolis Public Schools has a graduation rate of only 28%. That is shameful and appalling. The school systems are better in New York City, Chicago, and even rowdy raucous Detroit.

While the State, using our tax dollars, subsidizes the Colts, new office parks, and new building projects all in the name of the almighty Economic Development, which is meant to bring companies and jobs to Indianapolis. But why would a CEO move his company to Indianapolis, after visiting downtown schools and seeing that he would be educationally bankrupting his employees’ families by moving them here? How can we bring high-tech jobs here when 72% of children are not even qualified to work as security guards or managers at McDonald’s?

I understand that if you are a legislator from the suburbs, you will push for more money for suburban schools. But if you are also interested in Economic Development, the first step to making Indianapolis attractive to outsiders is a school system that at least offers a 50-50 chance of graduation. And if you refuse to allow gambling because you truly care about downtown Indy being “family friendly,” think about how family-friendly the schools make downtown. Consider two options: (1) your 16-year-old child walks past a slot facility (that he would not be allowed to enter) on his way home from school or (2) your 16-year-old child drops out of school and roams the streets during the school day while you are at work. I’ll take what’s behind door #1.

Treat downtown schools as though Economic Development had already worked at IPS was suddenly flooded with white children from affluent families. Is the decaying classroom without air conditioning or technology still acceptable? If the answer is no, then you are guilty of discrimination. Our city will be better off if children are treated equally and given equal advantages, regardless of race or class.


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