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A Mind Trust Is A Terrible Thing to Waste

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.

  • cynical sam

    Not that I have a dog in this fight, however, how about splitting the difference….$9K to schools/student and $3k towards fixing the century old sewers.  Hard to learn when you are sitting in feces.

  • Ramon

    This would mute the voices of IPS taxpayers and parents.  They should be called the Mindless Trust.

  • Abdul

    I disagree.  You still vote the school board, but indirectly, through your Mayor and city-council member, since the Mayor would make the appointment and they would be approved by the CCC.

  • pascal

    How many more decades do you want to waste with those losers?  Piss on them, in my view.  Roll the dice on anything but 40 plus years of absolute failures.  Mayors, by the way, used to appoint all the school board members.

  • pascal

    Sam, Schools in Indiana are awash in money-they really need less.  Much less.  They are past bankrupcy-no one would invest in them.  Mayor Peterson’s saving grace, and for which I will always honor him, has been his role in saving education.

  • Dave

    IPS is but one example of government’s unwarranted expansion through “promises” exceeding purpose & therefore capacity; the pretentious decay of mindless rust.

    Americans shouldn’t be trapped in the governmental quicksand of political expedience, in servitude, to a system of adult daycare.

    Education qua enlightenment, would diminish the role of government in favor market directed options.  

  • M Theory

    I love it whenever  hear someone suggest that we blow up a bureacracy.  Reminds me of a certain Ron Paul commercial that’s helping catapult his popularity in Iowa and New Hampshire.

  • M Theory

    The construction/acrchitecture companies seem to pick the winners for school boards and fund the campaigns who will give construction spending the rubber stamp.


  • Anonymous

    Thoughtful debate is one thing.  Settling for a feudal kingdom under either Dr. White or Mayor Ballard is another. 

    I believe former school board rep, Greg Wright, and others favored the fewer kingdoms and less overhead of something like a “country district”.  Mel appears to favor smaller, local districting, arguably “closer to the people”.

    The sizing of either may have examples of cronyism and excess.  But, either would have to get up pretty early in the morning to top Ballard or White.  

  • Anonymous

    With Boeing forced to build planes where they’re told instead of where they damn well please, downtown parking under a 50-yr contract for vendor of poor repute who is a political crony, the state saddled with an IURC that is repeatedly front-page corrupt, and Secretary of State Charlie White singled out for voting/residency prosecution while former Senator Bayh, current Senator Lugar, and President Obama’s 2008 write-in process is ignored, local activist Pat Andrews can’t get party support and Christine Scales barely gets reelected because they dare to put citizenry before party……

    The Democrats may be dysfunctional, but they’re only part of a collective bunch including the Republicans- locally, on the state level and nationally, that put perpetuation of party before taking care of the taxpayer.

    As citizens that have to live in this mess in our old age and turn it over to our kids, do we still have the luxury of continuing to behave like cattle- or are we going to participate? 

  • MikeRasmussen3009

    For the record, the Mind Trust was started by Democrats….

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