The education reform organization, The Mind Trust , is unveiling a plan which would radically change Indianapolis Public Schools. Citing graduation and ISTEP test results which place IPS Schools far below the state average, and only 41 cents of every dollar spent making it into the classroom The Mind Trust, has drafted a proposal which will change the way IPS schools are governed as well as how they operate. The plan calls for Mayoral oversight of schools in the IPS district while each school would become an independent operator or an “opportunity school”.
Under the Mind Trust plan the following would occur…
- The majority of IPS funding control would go from the Central Office to the individual schools. That would allow for $12,000 to be spent on the average student instead of the current $6,000.
- Pre-kindergraten for 4-year olds.
- Schools would be given control over their own personnel, curriculum, budgets and services as long as they met high standards.
- Teachers would be given more say in the classroom.
- The city’s public, magnet and charter schools would be put under one organizational umbrella known as “Opportunity Schools”
The Mind Trust makes the argument that it can accomplish this without spending additional tax dollars, but instead prioritizing current dollars which would allow more than 75% of dollars spent to go directly to the schools. Right now that number sits at about 41%.
To help achieve this new system, the Mind Trust proposes dissolving IPS’ current structure and creating a new five-member board that would be appointed by the Mayor of Indianapolis and approved by the City-County Council. The organization says that would create more accountability as well as serve as a central provider for back office functions such as debt financing.
The transition from IPS to the “Opportunity School” Model would take place over a several year period with 10 schools a year being transformed into “Opportunity Schools”.
I like the part about blowing up the bureaucracy in the central office at IPS and redirecting those funds toward the individual schools. I have some questions about how this would work with the existing governance of Charter schools, however, this shows a thoughtful approach to dealing with education.
If anything, it is a very good starting point for a thoughtful debate.
You can read the Executive Summary (six pages) of the report here.
A more detailed report (160 pages) can be found here.