A few years back for a reflection on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I wrote that there is nothing more painful than seeing so many of our children denied the quality education they need and deserve. This pain haunts me and it is why I continue to dedicate my life to changing opportunities for Black students across our country. The fight goes on in my hometown of Milwaukee and the fight goes on in Indianapolis.
One key contributor to this continuing pain is funding inequity between public schools. The problem is not unique to Indiana. But it just may get worse in Indiana if good folks stay silent. A referendum proposed by Indianapolis Public Schools, Indiana’s largest public school district, would increase the per student funding gap for charter school students from about $7,000 to over $10,000.
Compounding this inequity is the fact that Indianapolis charter schools serve a higher percentage of Black students and low-income students than the IPS district. More Black students and less money to serve them. The story is all too familiar.
My professional advocacy is laser-focused on helping create as many great schools as I can for the children of the families that Dr. Howard Thurman called the “disinherited.” This means demanding equal funding for all public school students in Indianapolis. Demanding that all public school students are valued, respected, and invested in.
A referendum that refuses to equally fund all students should be dead in the water. The future of Indianapolis depends on eliminating funding inequity. I also believe that the future of Milwaukee depends on it. Because as Dr. King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”