Big Changes At IPS Now That Eugene White Is Leaving?
Some hate to see him go; others believe IPS will improve
Some within Indianapolis Public Schools are not happy to see Superintendent Eugene White retire. Others believe his departure could lead to major changes to the school district, something the teachers' union does not want to see.
White announced his retirement, effective April 5, at Tuesday's IPS Board meeting. He leaves a mixed legacy - an increase in magnet schools and school choice with continued low test scores - but IPS teachers union president Ann Wilkins says in her mind, there is no doubt that White always put children first. She says White will be missed for the "tough love" he imposed on the struggling school district he inherited in 2005.
That love was not enough to do what David Harris said was enough to truly improve IPS. Harris is the founder and CEO of the Mind Trust, the education non-profit group that issued a report in December 2011 calling for a massive overhaul of the district. He says while he and White didn't agree on some issues, White was at least open to hearing the ideas of the Mind Trust and other education reform groups. "He was open to engaging with some of these cutting-edge, entrepreneurial education organizations. As a result, we have several of them here in Indianapolis."
White left just as a new IPS Board began its work, this time with a majority of members who oppose White's previous agenda. Harris believes the new board and whomever they choose as superintendent will make major changes to IPS in an effort to bring test scores up and improve high school graduation rates.
Wilkins is not hoping for large scale change. She fears the board will try to convert more schools to charter schools or that some members are "vindictive for what happened to them personally", a veiled reference to newly-elected IPS Board member Gayle Cosby. Cosby's husband, Brandon, was fired two years ago as by White as principal of Shortridge Magnet High School for "insubordination" and low test scores.