By Mary Bova | Indianapolis Educator
As a teacher, I have seen English Language Learner (ELL) students all over our city be an afterthought and not a priority. Our ELL students come to us so hard-working, on grade level much of the time, and with the ability to outperform their monolingual peers. Yet, we fail to recognize their greatness and serve them adequately. I’ve seen this with many student groups, which is why I joined a group of parents who are focused on ensuring equitable candidates get elected to the IPS board this November. I want our community to elect leaders who will be equitable for all students and who will help us move all our students forward.
After the legislative session and the dangerous bills that were luckily not passed, I fear that someone who may not be committed to equity or committed to the truth could be seated on the IPS board. Someone might run and be elected that doesn’t have the best interest of kids.
I don’t want someone who doesn’t have a heart for the work, for equity, or for language justice to be elected. We need strong leaders that care about kids and understand the importance of prioritizing teachers. This is important because someone could be elected which slows the progress we have started and so desperately need to continue.
What’s the process of the parent and educator group?
A group of us came together to talk about what we wanted to see in IPS board candidates and the importance of these local roles. From our combined opinions, we developed a questionnaire to get to know the candidates better. We did this because we want to make informed decisions about who we believe would make the best candidates for the position.
We then came up with ideas to disseminate that information to our sphere of influence and let others know as well. We want to let everyone know what the candidates stand for and who they are as people and why they would or would not be good candidates.
At the moment, we have sent surveys to the candidates and are planning to follow up with them once we receive all of them back.
In the future, we plan to meet with them to ask in-person questions.
After the group has made a decision, we will share that as widely as we can. We hope that from this, more people vote for the most equitable candidates for the IPS board.
What do you like about the group?
I like that this process has been a group of diverse volunteers who care about IPS.
The group contains many parents, all with diverse backgrounds, opinions, and perspectives. We have come together to determine what we think is the best way to move our kids forward and our schools forward. It is so needed right now.
What kind of candidates are you seeking?
This is a very important election. From it, our group would like to see IPS board members elected who are wholeheartedly invested in the work of moving education forward for our kids.
We want to choose candidates that reflect our values. Our values all center around equity. We want to close the opportunity gap. We want to see language justice practiced and normalized. We want candidates focused on what is best for kids, families, and teachers. We want board members who will make the changes we need to have a just and equitable IPS, an IPS where every kid gets a great education.
Why would you encourage other people to get out and vote?
At one time, I didn’t think voting for local school boards was that important. Now, I see the biggest changes are made in the perceived smallest places. Local elections are more important than ever. This is where some of the changes that will be the most impactful for us as a community and as individuals will occur.
We won’t see changes we want, or we may see changes we don’t want—that don’t represent our voices—if we don’t vote.
It is so vital people get out and vote for local elections and vote for the school board.