INDIANAPOLIS —— Numerous area high schools, middle schools and elementary schools are targets for a radical House Republican plan to create “for profit” schools in Indiana, according to State Rep. Craig Fry (D-Mishawaka).
“One of the most insidious ‘reforms’ now being attempted by Republicans in the Indiana House is a proposal (House Bill 1479) to create what are being called turnaround academies,” Fry said. “In point of fact, this is nothing more than a plan to turn large sections of Indiana ‘s public school system into businesses, with the education of children taking a back seat to profits.”
HB 1479 would allow for an immediate state takeover of more than 200 Indiana public schools that are classified as being either on academic watch or probation by the Indiana Department of Education.
“These schools would then become turnaround academies: isolated, independent school corporations run by for-profit management companies,” Fry said. “Even though these companies will be given hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars, they would be accountable to no one. All local decision-making would be ignored and the local school board would have no role in how these schools are run.”
Local schools that would be impacted by this plan are Mishawaka High School, John Young Middle School, and seven schools in South Bend: Clay, Adams, Riley and Washington High Schools, Bendix School, the Dickinson Fine Arts Academy, and the Madison Primary Center.
Also targeted would be Elkhart Central and Memorial High Schools, and West Side and North Side Middle Schools, along with Concord South Side Elementary School and Jimtown Junior High.
“Once schools are designated as turnaround academies, a for profit group will be able to buy these school buildings—which were built by our property tax dollars—for $1,” Fry said. “After taking control, they will be free to do anything, including firing teachers and administrators. They will even be able to put up billboards, signs and other types of advertising in order to maximize their profits.”
If the academy does not work, the school will be turned back over to the local district with no penalties for bad performance by the for-profit group.
“This entire idea is offensive on so many levels that it’s difficult to know where to begin, but let’s start with the basic concept here,” Fry said. “No matter how nobly they state their goals, for profit entities are in business for one reason: to make a profit. I will not stand by and see our state’s constitution guarantee to provide a free public education for all Hoosier schoolchildren set aside in order to help businesses make a buck. This idea must be stopped.”
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