Local Races Are Important Too

We are approaching midterm elections and for obvious reasons, most of our attention is on Congress. But we shouldn’t forget the importance of local races.

Especially school board elections.

Not only is it critically important to improve–and support– public education, but homeowners have a fiscal interest in good schools: the value of your home is significantly affected by perceptions of the local school system.

I have learned first-hand how thankless a job on the local school board can be. Our daughter has spent the last 20 years–with a one-term hiatus–on the Indianapolis Public School Board. I’ve watched as she and her colleagues (including a former student of mine) have worked their hearts out to improve the district, while every new effort has been met with brickbats and/or accusations of bad intentions from the inevitable naysayers and people with various axes to grind.

You have to really care about children and education to serve on a school board.

Our daughter is retiring, but she has endorsed one of the candidates who is running to replace her. She recently sent out a letter on his behalf, and I’d like to share that letter.

Since I announced that I would not be seeking re-election to the Indianapolis Public Schools Board of Commissioners in July, I have been glad to see a number of high quality candidates enter the field to advocate for the interests of the IPS parents and families of District 3. These candidates represent the diversity of perspective and passion for our young people that gives IPS the incredible energy and potential it has as our state’s largest public school district. As someone who has stood for election a few times herself, I know the bravery, determination and strength of character it takes to put yourself before your own community and fight for the privilege to lead. For this reason, I wish every single candidate in this year’s election well.

With that said, elections are about choices, and when the polls close on November 6th only one candidate will take up the mantle of serving and supporting our public school system. I take pride in what I was able to accomplish as part of the team that has been guiding Indianapolis Public Schools in recent years, and I really do believe we have made incredible progress as a district.  Graduation rates are up and in District 3 more families are choosing IPS because of the expansion of successful magnet programs. But there is more work to be done. It is with the work still ahead of us in mind that I proudly and wholeheartedly endorse my friend Evan Hawkins in his bid to fill my former seat on the IPS Board of Commissioners.

Evan grew up in Butler Tarkington, just around the corner from my husband and me.  I have known members of Evan’s family for years; a family with deep roots in Indianapolis and IPS. I see in him the same passion for community and belief in our young people that drove me to run for the same office 20 years ago. Those values are important, but there’s more to Evan than what he values. IPS schools need leaders who not only have a vision for the future success of our district, but who have the experience it takes to plan and prepare for that future. Evan Hawkins is a career K-12 educational professional who has the expertise it takes to work with our school leaders, teachers, and IPS families to develop a comprehensive financial plan that will improve and sustain IPS for all of our kids.  And Evan and his wife live in Meridian Kessler and are parents in IPS.  They know first hand the the impact high quality public schools have on students, families, and neighborhoods.

From complex budget issues to school closures, my time on the IPS Board has meant hard choices for the district and the taxpaying families we serve. Everyone can see that in these changing times, more complex challenges and difficult choices will await those candidates who become commissioners after election day. IPS parents and families deserve to know that their district has the best prepared leadership at the helm to help guide our schools to success. This election, IPS District 3 has the opportunity to elect a leader with the passion of an IPS parent and the preparation of a professional in the educational field, and that is why I’ll be casting my vote for Evan Hawkins on Tuesday, November 6th.

I’ve known and deeply admired members of Evan’s family for a long time, and it’s clear that Evan shares his family’s belief in social equity and public service. If you live in IPS District 3, I hope you’ll consider voting for him. If you don’t live in District 3, I hope you will carefully consider the candidates for your local school board.

It’s one more important decision in a monumentally important year.


  1. And if you’re in District 5, please come out and support Donna Thornton to replace Susan Brooks.

  2. It’s a great letter but about three paragraphs too long for most Americans to handle. Sadly, when it comes to voting, there are only two choices. Once it gets more complicated than that, trouble ensues.

    Once American citizens graduate from high school, the desire for continued education must drop to zero motivation. Even some of the more intelligent people have no clue what’s going on in their community.

    What did Mark Twain say about those folks who read the newspaper? If you watch television, you have even less comprehension about local matters.

    Why do you think Fascism has taken hold in this country? Why do you think propaganda is used so effectively?

    I still have a few conservatives on my Facebook who like to argue with me. Their main form of communication are memes defunct of any factual info. While your daughters letter is eloquently written and makes a great case for her successor, what percentage of the population will see its length and toss it?

    It can be painful to watch, so I recommend balance with lots of comedy.

    Case in point…I don’t know who is advising Trump, Fox News, and the GOP, but their communication strategy comes right off the pages of Mein Kampf.


  3. Sheila, I have to respectfully disagree with your daughters’ support of Evan Hawkins. He will continue the privatization of IPS which is wrong. IPS does not need another innovation school or another neighborhood destroyed by the constant turmoil over keeping a local school open; and it certainly does not need an organization like Stand for Children (they support and fund Hawkins) which is not a grass roots or community based group, putting people on the board that will end public education as we know it. I, like many current and former IPS teachers will support Susan Collins, Michele Lorbieski, and Taria Slack for the IPS school board.

  4. My educational years were during the 1940’s and 1950’s when neighborhood schools and churches were the hubs of the neighborhoods…kept totally separate in keeping with separation of church and state as required by the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Indiana. All children (except for those few “colored kids” in many neighborhoods of course) got an education; churches were there for religious education. That system (except for that nasty segregation issue) seemed to work for cities. The current combination of politics/religion/education is an unfair system and abuse of our public education tax dollars by adding tax support to primarily religious schools, all of whom are already benefited by their tax exempt status. This is being accomplished by any and all who support the voucher system, including local school boards, and Indiana has the highest number of voucher students in the country.

    “Not only is it critically important to improve–and support– public education, but homeowners have a fiscal interest in good schools: the value of your home is significantly affected by perceptions of the local school system.”

    To quote from Muhammad Ali’s movie theme song, “I believe the children are our future; teach them well and let them lead the way.” The above quote from the blog is showing the source and the crux of today’s political chaos and turmoil…it all began during the confusing education years of many of our current leaders. Our local elections are indeed important; they set the foundation of higher levels of elections all the way to the top where we now have an uneducated “leader” who attended the highest priced schools in the country but learned nothing of our government. Local school board members here have made decisions regarding quality of education which are reflected throughout local politics; leading to the highest number of voucher students in the nation which combines “church and state” by ignoring both the Indiana Constitution and the Constitution of the United States of America.

    Local elections are indeed important and our local elections have led us to Trump making the keynote speech to the Future Farmers of America (FFA) here in Indianapolis on Saturday. Public education, the value of our homes and on Saturday our nation’s food supply will be further educated by uneducated and unstable Donald Trump. Remember his speech to the Boy Scouts of America? I’m sure Rev. Pence led to the decision to have Trump speak here to the FFA, little more than a week before the mid-term elections. Simply another Trump Republican – or is it now a Nationalist – political rally.

    I won’t apologize for my rant; I watched Trump’s actual speech yesterday and became physically nauseated, he appears to be nearing desperation level which also raised my level of fear for all of us. This morning the Republican candidates are suddenly campaigning for one-payer health care; my public education decades ago taught me to remember facts as they happened to recognize distortions and lies later. I recognize what is going on and fear that Trump’s fear tactics will encourage Republican voters to turn out at the polls and Democratic voters to sit at home with no hope for our future. I hope the FFA speech will be televised; it could be the deciding factor for voters.


  5. Teresa Kendall – I have to respectfully disagree with your characterization that the IPS Board is privatizing public schools. We are not. Charter schools are public schools and IPS Innovation charter school (a partnership between charter schools and IPS) are accountable to their authorizer (in most cases the Mayor of Indianapolis) AND the elected IPS School Board.

    Privatization is occurring in Indiana, but the IPS School Board is not involved in this effort. The State of Indiana provides tax supported vouchers to families to attend PRIVATE schools. The State of Indiana also provides tax credits for school supplies for families in PRIVATE schools. And the State of Indiana provides tax credits to individuals and corporations that donate to organizations that provide scholarships to PRIVATE schools. This is privatization. These schools ARE NOT accountable to the public and as we have seen recently, these schools can and do discriminate.

  6. Liz Watson a Democrat deserves a vote for Congress from Indiana’s 9th District. https://lizforindiana.com/news-summary/

    It seems with the exception of attack ads the incumbent Republicans are taking a stay in the bunker approach and hoping their base turns out for them. President Agent Orange is on the campaign trail, spreading dis-information an out right lies at every stop.

    National Nurses United (NNU) surveyed hundreds of Democratic House candidates and found that 52 percent of them proudly back a universal healthcare program in the form of Medicare for All. Running in races across the nation, 225 Democrats who will appear on ballots for national seats support the proposal.

    This is a gigantic change in the Democratic Party from 2016, when Bernie Sanders was one of the few who supported universal health care. The Republican Reactionary-Right Wing-Evangelicals after years of attacking ACA have NO Healthcare Plan.

  7. The rural school district that I live in has been experiencing upheaval for a few years. The school board members have a history of making decisions in private meetings.

    Two and a half years ago they, against state regulations, met privately multiple times to create a reconfiguration of the schools. When they announced their decision to the public, there was widespread anger among the parents and teachers. Two board members were voted out that fall. In addition, the local newspaper filed a complaint with the State and our school board members were informed that they could not implement their plan because they went against state regs to create their plan without input from the public.

    The remaining board members from that time have been causing more trouble by refusing to listen to the ideas of parents, teachers, and property owners. They are still holding meetings in private and refuse to share what is going on. The continued secrecy will most likely see those board members being voted out in a couple weeks.

    The two new members on the board from the 2016 election are met with a refusal to listen to or accept any of their suggestions, which happen to line up with the public. Most of us have no idea why the other board members refuse to listen to the public or why they are choosing to keep the two newest members out of the loop.

    Their practice of refusing to explain their reasons for making choices that are against what the public wants is inexcusable and it is time for them to go. There are three new candidates that are running on a platform of listening to parents and the public and wanting to do what is best for the education of the children in our school district. They have also pledged that they will not be making decisions behind closed doors.

  8. Monotonous:
    “The Republican Reactionary-Right Wing-Evangelicals after years of attacking ACA have NO Healthcare Plan.” They never had a plan and they still don’t. They have just been successful at campaigning against Obama and talking about the the nightmare of ObamaCare.

  9. Hubert Humphrey was once asked …. of all the political positions he had held, which one was the best and where had he been the most productive. He immediately said that being Mayor of Minneapolis was. At that level, he had done more good and timely work to benefit his constituency than at any other. My experience says that he was correct. And perhaps no other position has an impact on no more important issue than being a public school board member directing public education. A good education is the foundation of a healthy and prosperous society. Good school board members control that opportunity more than anyone else.

  10. daleb @ 9:43 am > I agree, The Republican Reactionary-Right Wing-Evangelicals are on a relentless attack, with President Agent Orange and Pastor Pence, lies, mis-information, fear mongering and dis-information is now the coin of the realm for the the Party of President Agent Orange.

Comments are closed.