Reports from The Mind Trust and our partners on our organization’s work and the Indianapolis education landscape.

Enrollment & Family Voice

Driving Change: How Transportation Innovation Gives Families Power to Choose (November 2021)

Hoosier students attend schools across a nationally unique choice landscape with a diverse portfolio of high-quality public options, as well as the nation’s largest voucher program. In Indiana, approximately 650,000 students ride 13,365 yellow school buses to and from school every day. This represents about 60% of the total student population in the state—well above the national average of 47% who ride the bus.

Yet, school transportation in Indiana still relies heavily on yellow buses and the small number of transportation management companies. Schools of all sizes, types and locations in Indiana face the same issues – driver shortages, higher costs, and limited access to available management companies. Improving school transportation will have a direct impact on the quality of education for hundreds of thousands of Hoosier students. To do this, updated laws and systems need to be put into place to support flexibility and collaboration across schools and districts.

Driving Change provides an overview of this issue for families and the broader community. It shares:

  • An approachable breakdown of current challenges in safety, routing, safety, vehicles, management, and data
  • A case study on what a new, collaborative school transportation solution could look like for families and schools
  • Recommendations for policy & operational shifts that can help improve school transportation for students across Indiana. 

Our Schools, Our Children, Our Choice: A Report on Public School Enrollment in Indianapolis from EmpowerED Families (April 2021)

EmpowerED Families, a nonprofit that builds family power through relationships to advocate for equitable education, released Our Schools, Our Children, Our Choice: A Report on Public School Enrollment in Indianapolis in April 2021. The report looks at K-12 enrollment in public schools within Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) boundaries and includes stories from Indianapolis parents on their experience choosing schools for their children. A few highlights:

  • There was a 2.5% increase in IPS enrollment from the 2019-2020 to 2020-2021 school year.
  • IPS enrollment has increased by 6.8% since introducing Innovation Network Schools in 2014.
  • 56.2% of public school students within IPS boundaries are enrolled in a public charter school or IPS Innovation Network School.
  • Since 2011, enrollment at independent charter schools within IPS boundaries has increased 26.4%.

Public Policy

Protecting School Choice: How Flexibility in Transportation Can Improve Access and Efficiency (November 2021)

With approximately 60% of Hoosier public school students riding yellow buses to school each day, modernizing state policy can have a wide impact on children from all types of schools and regions in the state. To protect a strong school choice landscape, it is critical that Hoosiers leverage their innovative spirit to rethink and redesign the state’s school transportation systems.

This report provides an expenditure analysis, in-depth overview of the current challenges, and detailed policy and operational recommendations to improve school transportation in Indiana. The policy shifts recommended would support the ability of schools to use smaller vehicles and make collaboration between schools and districts easier. Indiana lawmakers have the opportunity to address these issues in the upcoming 2022 legislative session.

The Third Way: A Guide to Implementing Innovation Schools from Progressive Policy Institute (October 2020)

Across the country, urban school districts are moving beyond industrial-era systems by creating “innovation” or “partnership” schools that have the freedom to reinvent the way they educate students. The Progressive Policy Institute released a how-to guide for legislators, district leaders, and advocates who want to create more of these 21st century schools: The Third Way: A Guide to Implementing Innovation Schools.

The results so far have been impressive. In Indianapolis, “innovation network schools” are the fastest improving group of schools in the district. The guide draws lessons from the experience of these and other districts, discusses key “success factors,” lays out implementation steps, and includes model state legislation to allow and encourage districts to create such schools.

Ensuring all Students in Indiana Receive Their Fair Share of Funding from the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation (October 2020)

School-funding changes over the last decade have exacerbated inequities in how Indiana’s public education dollars are allocated. Students from low-income communities, students with disabilities, English language learners, and students in public charter schools receive less than their fair share of funds, and these inequities will likely be exacerbated by COVID-19. Students of color are disproportionately impacted by these funding gaps.

Two primary funding changes have contributed to the problem: property tax reforms and funding formula changes.

Raising the Bar: Why Public Schools Must Become Even More Innovative (October 2015)

The Mind Trust and a national advisory board examined data, conducted field interviews, reviewed existing literature, and conducted focus groups to provide policymakers, funders, and community organizations with recommendations on innovative solutions to better public schools for the students they serve.

Creating Opportunity Schools: A Bold Plan to Transform Indianapolis Public Schools (December 2011)

The Mind Trust released the Opportunity Schools report to advocate for a bold reimagining of Indianapolis Public Schools. The report outlined recommendations the district could implement to create better outcomes for students, including an idea that would lead to Innovation Network School.

The Need for Equitable Funding in Indiana Charter Schools from Progressive Policy Institute (December 2018)

Partnership Schools: New Governance Models for Creating Quality School Options in Districts from the Center for Reinventing Public Education (October 2017)

An Education Revolution in Indianapolis from Progressive Policy Institute (December 2016)

Separating Fact from Fiction: What You Need to Know About Charter Schools from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools