By Wade Coggeshall
INDIANAPOLIS — Education has been an important issue in Indianapolis for a while now.
Test scores remain substandard in some local schools. Indiana's Board of Education is considering taking control of some of Indianapolis Public Schools' failing institutions. And last year the legislature made sweeping reforms that paved the way for more charter schools.
As a result the Indianapolis Public Library will host a free series of public forums about education at the Central Library. The first is 6 p.m. Wednesday and deals with the Mind Trust's proposed restructuring of IPS. Neerav Kingsland, chief strategy officer of the New Orleans Recovery School District, will give a presentation about their efforts following Hurricane Katrina. WTLC-AM host Amos Brown will moderate.
Future forums will focus on the Indianapolis School Chooser Coaching Program, education accountability and finance, and parent-teacher partnerships. The last gathering is a teacher town hall on Aug. 28.
Chris Cairo, IMCPL's director of project development, says public libraries are the perfect place for such community forums.
"I definitely think we're the organization that should be bringing all these people together," she said. "We can do it in a non-threatening, open forum."
And with education being such a contentious issue in recent memory, now seemed an appropriate time to talk about what direction educational leaders and their constituents want to take and what the future looks like for education.
"It's reached the point where people want to have conversations about it and find new directions," Cairo said.
With the series being free and incorporating numerous authoritative figures, Cairo hopes as many community members as possible attend.
"We're all stakeholders in our kids being well-educated," Cairo said. "It costs us a lot more to take care of someone who drops out of high school and isn't gainfully employed than it is to make sure they have a good education."
Call 275-4100 or visit the website imcpl.org for more information.