By Raymond Ankrum
The eleven Indianapolis school districts and the charter school networks that service the students of Indianapolis are in a state of emergency. Whenever only 8% of Black students are proficient in both reading and math, it shows us that a real problem exists among the schools. The data doesn’t lie. Of course, we know that multiple measures need to be used to determine how the whole child is performing, but let me be clear; 8% is simply unacceptable.
The 8 Black Hands podcast recently did a live show in Indianapolis to point out these disparities. Dr. Charles Cole III, CEO of Energy Convertors, called for adults to have the courage to stand up for students. Sharif El-Mekki, CEO of the Center of Black Educator Development, suggested educators shift their mindset regarding engaging Black students. He stated, “All change in schools starts directly with teacher mindset.” Christopher Stewart, CEO of Brightbeam, made a passionate plea with the audience to either step up to the plate or leave education.
The 8 Black Hands have a unique style of presenting their live shows. We come into the city and ask stakeholders tough questions about what’s working and not working. We qualitatively extract information from students, parents, community leaders, etc., while looking at the quantitative data to give our audience a mixed-methods potion of truth serum.
Not all is lost in Indy. Currently, Indianapolis schools are in a perfect storm that could end with great success. As Superintendent of Riverhead, I also gave suggestions to the audience on how to turn this situation around quickly. I shared the following:
1. School leaders need to be in classrooms providing continuous feedback to teachers.
2. School leaders need to collaborate with other school leaders that have figured things out.
3. Perennially failing schools in Indianapolis need to shut down.
Remember, anyone who threatens the education of our 8 million Black children is likely to catch these 8 Black hands.