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Indianapolis Public Schools prioritizes racial equity

Posted at 7:50 AM, Oct 15, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-23 06:23:01-04

INDIANAPOLIS — The state's largest school district is making a shift to ensure all students have a fair shot at good grades, resources, and future opportunities.

Aleesia Johnson, the new superintendent of Indianapolis Public Schools, is already putting into motion a plan for one of her top priorities — racial equity for students and staff.

Dozens of people from all types of backgrounds packed the Clowes Auditorium at Central Library Monday night to watch the documentary 'True Justice: Bryan Stevenson's Fight for Equality.'

"It's really sad that this happened," Cat, an IPS student, said after watching the documentary.

Cat, along with several of her other classmates from The Orchard School, were able to learn about the injustices committed against African Americans from the time our country was founded and the ripple effect it has had today.

"The bad stuff will help us ... will help us create better stuff in the future ... so we don't have to relive that — and we can build," another IPS student said.

After the documentary, panelists addressed systemic issues facing Black and Brown students and ways to help them overcome life struggles they didn't create.

"Equality is where, for instance, you give the child the same book, but if every child can't read that book, then equity comes in where you can make sure you give children what they need," Pat Payne, IPS director for the racial equity initiative, said.

Payne has been doing racial equity work for more than 57 years. She says that to create a better future for all students, the conversation about tough issues, like race, has to be ongoing and always evolving.

"It's not something that you can do and move on to something else, we have to keep moving because it's a process and it's a journey," Payne said.

One of the primary goals of the day-long racial equity summit was to give teachers the knowledge they need to teach tough topics, such as race in America and how it has shaped our country.

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