Melina Kennedy listened to all different sorts of stakeholders to help her craft her plan to improve education in Indianapolis. Last Thursday, she announced her plan in a speech to the Indianapolis Sertoma Club. Again, it's excellent policy, and her speech took on Mayor Greg Ballard where he has dropped the ball.
Read the entire speech here.
Kennedy sent out this release to supporters describing her plan in brief.
Today, I presented a four part plan to improve educational outcomes during a speech before the downtown Sertoma Club. And two weeks ago I announced my 2021 Vision – a plan to fund, without new taxes, several initiatives to make Indianapolis a quality of life capital, including education.
My four part plan to improve educational outcomes:
1) Sustained Mayoral Engagement
2) Investments in Early Childhood Literacy
3) Continued Charter School Improvement & Accountability
4) Maximizing Resources and Partnerships to Improve Educational Outcomes
As many of you are aware, this summer I have been meeting with community leaders, business leaders, teachers, superintendents, students, parents and education experts to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing our schools. These meetings have been extremely valuable as I crafted my plan.
Education is critical to the success of our city and it must be a priority of any mayor. Our children and our city can no longer afford to have a mayor who sits on the sidelines and watches what happens to our schools...
Children who do not graduate from high school are three times more likely than college graduates to be unemployed. When they do find employment, kids who drop out earn just one-third of what college graduates earn. Most sobering, children who don't complete high school are 8 times more likely than high school graduates to end up in jail or prison.
We know that as educational outcomes improve, the crime rate falls, poverty decreases, and more of our neighbors have the skills to get good jobs. In my view, the connection between education and these critical issues makes a mayor's focus on education not simply a choice, but a duty.
The surest way to improve educational outcomes is to make sure that our children can read at grade level by the end of third grade and through the initiative 2021 Vision, we can enhance existing programs that work, begin new initiatives, and ensure that we use existing city-county points of contact to promote literacy.
We should not settle for an ordinary education system, we should demand of ourselves an education system that is extraordinary. Our children deserve it and the future of our city depends on it.
As I posted a week or so ago, I had the honor to be a part of one of Kennedy's roundtables, and, as I read the specifics of her education plan, I see not only Kennedy's fingerprints on the plan but those of the people that were in the room with me on that Tuesday afternoon at the Villages on Meridian Street.
One plan she outlined in her speech was something we directly talked about at our table, and I'm sure she heard the refrain again and again. From her speech to the Sertoma Club:
...we must have a mayor who is fully engaged in public education. We often hear that, by law, the mayor of Indianapolis has little direct involvement in public education. An exception to that is the charter school authorizing power that former Mayor Bart Peterson sought and received in 2001. To his credit, Mayor Ballard has mostly maintained the Indianapolis charter schools initiative. But Mayor Ballard has also been virtually absent from any other meaningful discussion about education – an absence of leadership that our city can no longer afford.
Public education is too important to sit on the sidelines. As mayor, I'll go to work every day focused on things my administration can do to improve educational outcomes for our children.
I will start by convening regular discussions with all the participants in the public education system throughout my term as mayor. This includes regular meetings with Marion County's eleven school superintendents – something that seems simple enough, but hasn't been done by the current mayor.
We talked about continuing the dialogue between all stakeholders across Marion County to keep the ideas alive and flowing. It's clear that Kennedy heard what people were saying in those meetings.
Laying asphalt is easy and selling our assets makes a quick buck, but building a "2021 Vision" is something Mayor Greg Ballard has never done. Kennedy is building that vision for a better city plank by plank. Is it November yet?