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Mailbag: 'If Project School Families Are Unhappy With Closure, Start A Private School'

Events in the ongoing story of The Indianapolis Project School moved quickly Tuesday.

Mayor Greg Ballard, the school’s charter sponsor, sent out a final order shutting down the school for good at 3:30 p.m. But barely an hour later, a Marion Superior Court judge issued a temporary restraining order blocking the mayor’s move, at least until a hearing next week.

We wrote yesterday about why we at StateImpact think this story matters to you even if you don’t live in Indianapolis. You weighed in too — on that story, Robert Emerson left this comment:

Isn’t the issue here that they want to take state dollars and do whatever they want? They knew what the rules regarding performance were. If the families are so happy, why not start a private school and pay for it. Those with the purse strings get to make the rules.

Commenter Natasygoddess writes:

Stop making excuses. All schools have populations of students that are behind, economically disadvantaged and the like. If you can’t give quality education then they should be shut down.

A commenter, “teacher,” responded to Natasygoddess:

I’d be embarrassed to spout off like that. These are students who are “pushed” out of corporations so they don’t drag down the scores. When testing becomes to only measurement, drastic things happen so “those kids” don’t get counted.

On our Facebook page, we heard from commenter Donna Sink:

I really know nothing of the school’s finances, and I have serious enough concerns about ISTEP that I would believe that students who have been stable at TPS for more than a year would score well enough as compared to new, transient students – that seems plausible. What I cannot understand is how Ballard expects parents to find alternate schools in two weeks, long after the magnet schools deadlines are all passed. I think it is only fair to the parents and students to give them a year of time to figure out an alternate or prove their worth.

We’ve also written about how parents have rallied to the school’s defense, saying the school’s pass rate on the ISTEP+ rate (which, at less than 30 percent, is well below the state’s average) doesn’t tell the full story of the school’s performance. Commenter TPSparent writes:

[The Project School] has a large contingent of kids that the IPS system failed, either by outright expulsion or by forcing them to change schools multiple times. TPS is helping these kids, but it’s going to take 2-3 years before many of them will be able to pass the ISTEP. This lag is due to both these kids’ background and the fact that TPS teachers focus on helping kids learn how to learn and think rather than just drilling them to pass the ISTEP. A closer look at the recent ISTEP results indicates over a 70% pass rate for kids who’ve attended TPS for at least three years.

With TPS you have a school that attracts students from across the city where they learn side by side with kids failed by the IPS system. The school was on an upward trajectory until this devastating action by the Mayor’s office, taken only two weeks before the start of school and forcing teachers and parents to scatter to find other jobs and schools.

SMJ commented:

I don’t mind being held accountable for what I do; however, I should not be judged based on my students’ or my school’s performance. That’s like holding a dentist accountable if a kid gets a cavity. There are far too many variables that teachers cannot control. All we can do is plan, teach, and evaluate. We cannot MAKE our students learn.

Add your thoughts to our other commenters — what do you think should happen to The Project School?

Comments

  • charterschoolmom

    It’s unfair to shut down a school two weeks before it opens. Many of these kids have already been marginalized by poorly performing schools in the past, and to push them aside again will affect far more than their academic performance. Kids who feel that the school, their teachers or government officials have given up on them could suffer for many years, both psychologically and academically. And for observers to suggest that the affected families start their own private school, well, they simply can’t do that in two weeks, and most probably don’t have the financial means to make that happen anyway. They could start a charter school, but that is a minimum two-year process. In the ensuing two years, what will these children do? I’d rather see the school develop an improvement plan in cooperation with the city government than to simply close the doors.

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