New report reveals Indianapolis charter and innovation school parents’ perspective on the city’s education system
A new report from The Mind Trust and EmpowerED Families, “Parent Perspectives: What Indianapolis parents and residents want from their public schools” highlights views and recommendations from the majority of public school parents in Indianapolis Public School (IPS) boundaries: charter and innovation school parents.
In the 2022–2023 school year, 58.3% of public school students in IPS boundaries attended a charter or innovation school. “Parent Perspectives” examines the factors that influence parents’ preferences for charter and innovation schools and provides recommendations for community leaders to improve accessibility to schools families want.
“Indianapolis parents spoke up, shared what matters most to them, and offered solutions for areas they want to see improved. This report should be required reading for anyone who works in schools or makes decisions that impact our education system,” said Kim Graham, Director of Organizing and Partnerships for EmpowerED Families, a local parent advocacy group. “EmpowerED Families is proud to amplify their voices through this report and is committed to using their input to create positive change in our education system.”
“The desires of Indianapolis families have shaped our city’s schools and created a nationally unique educational landscape,” said Brandon Brown, CEO of The Mind Trust. “This report shines a light on their first-hand experiences and gives our community valuable insight into how we can continue to improve public schools in Indianapolis. ”
The research in this report was conducted by an independent research team and represents more than 2,000 survey responses and 1:1 interviews with adults living in Marion County and parents who have children in public charter, innovation, and district-run schools. Respondents shared demographic and school attendance information. Responses were anonymized so that parents could feel comfortable sharing their views, so no individual or school names were listed in the report.
School choice has wide popularity among Indianapolis residents and parents
In a survey of the general population in Marion County, 9 in 10 respondents agree parents should have the choice to send their kids to schools that best fit their children’s needs.
- 83% of respondents agree that teachers and school leaders should have the ability to make key decisions about school conditions, such as length of day, curriculum, staff, student support, and more, without strong input from a school district.
- 75% of the respondents in Marion County believe government leaders should enact policies that help parents make the best decisions for their child’s education.
Parents choose charter and innovation schools for learning environment, safety, and high expectations
A safe environment, diverse community, high expectations, and academic programs were common themes for why parents are choosing charter and innovation schools.
- 85% of charter and innovation school parents said a diverse student population is one of their school’s strengths.
- 82% of charter and innovation school parents said that their school has high expectations for their students.
- The majority of charter and innovation school families would recommend their school to another family.
“Parent Perspectives” explores five areas that charter and innovation parents identify as strengths: a sense of community, personalized attention, diverse teachers and staff, innovative curriculum, and a safe environment. The report also details three areas that parents want to see improve: more access to school transportation, a focus on teacher retention, and additional extracurricular activities and specialized classes.
Report shares recommendations Indianapolis education and community leaders should act on
Four recommendations are detailed in the report, based on data from charter and innovation school parent surveys and interviews.
- Property tax-sharing with charter schools should be expanded to help close the district-charter funding gap.
- Charter schools and IPS should embrace innovation network school partnerships to keep this popular option available to students and families.
- Families want schools and education-focused organizations to create solutions that increase access to transportation for all types of public schools.
- Families want IPS and charter schools to focus on collaboration over competition to ensure all schools are serving students well.
The Mind Trust and EmpowerED Families will host a community conversation about the report, featuring a charter and innovation school parent panel on Tuesday, December 12 at the Indianapolis Central Public Library. To learn more about the report and to download “Parent Perspectives” in English and Spanish, visit themindtrust.org/parentreport.
About EmpowerED Families
EmpowerED Families is a parent advocacy organization with the mission to build power through relationships and equip families with the tools and resources to fight for high-quality, equitable education. Our goal is to build a movement of families and allies to fight for education practices and policies that lead to greater social and economic opportunities for students in Indianapolis. For more information visit empoweredfamiliesindy.org.
About The Mind Trust
The Mind Trust is an Indianapolis-based education nonprofit that works to build a system of schools that gives every student, no exceptions, access to a high-quality education. The Mind Trust does this by building a supportive environment for schools through policy and community engagement, empowering talented, diverse educators to launch new schools, and providing existing schools with the support they need to hire world-class talent and achieve excellence. Since 2006, The Mind Trust has supported the launch of 49 schools, 15 education nonprofit organizations, and has helped place more than 1,800 teachers and school leaders in Indianapolis classrooms.