Read at the January 23, 2024 MCCSC Board of School Trustees meeting.
Dear MCCSC School Board Members,
My name is Keri Miksza and I am the current chair of the Indiana Coalition for Public Education–Monroe County. We are a membership driven, volunteer run organization composed of local community members.
Our organization’s vision is for all children to have high-quality, equitable, well-funded schools that are subject to democratic oversight by their communities. At their best, public schools bring students together and provide environments where children get to know, respect, and learn along with others of diverse races, family incomes, religions, and worldviews. Democracy needs public schools.
We know that balancing MCCSC elementary schools has been in the works since before the pandemic. For example, in the fall of 2019, the district held a fireside chat covering the history of redistricting in MCCSC that was very informative. It’s now been almost 20 years since the last redistricting effort. And some may say the three rounds of redistricting between 1990 and 2005 didn’t go far enough to balance our elementary schools even though in one redistricting effort in the mid-90s. Understanding the history of our district is important and should be publicly documented for community members to access.
ICPE Monroe County would also like to clarify a 4 year old Capstone report that is being referenced a bit in our community. The 2021 report was the work of masters students in the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs. It was a summer project. We are grateful to them for their valuable work, but they had limited access to data, limited time, and pandemic challenges. If the board or community refers to that report, they should take this into consideration.
Since the last redistricting effort in 2005, Indiana now operates under a consumer-based school choice landscape created by Indiana’s legislature. Districts of all sizes must be more nimble to best serve school-age community members in the face of state funding not keeping up with the rate of inflation and endless unfunded mandates by the state legislature. They control the purse strings and a lot of the rules.
Indiana Coalition for Public Education–Monroe County supports redistricting efforts. We believe that integration by income and race can help realize the full potential of our public schools—the heart of our community. In addition we support MCCSC instituting a regularly scheduled review of our district schools to ensure that they are consistently balanced as best possible.
Balanced schools help to reduce racial achievement gaps; encourage critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity; and can improve students’ satisfaction and intellectual self-confidence. They can help cultivate meaningful relationships between individuals with different racial or socioeconomic backgrounds, which in turn impact how diverse students treat one another.
ICPE supports transparency, good research, and community involvement, which includes the employees of MCCSC, in this endeavor. Transparency helps create trust. We realize that balancing is NOT easy. It never is. We encourage all to read the historical Herald Times articles available via our amazing public library. Our community is not perfect. We humans can be close-minded in the face of fear of change. But hard things can be done for the sake of all of our community’s children. They are our community’s future.