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2011 NEWSMAKER: Eugene White in crosshairs as reformers target IPS

IBJ Staff
December 24, 2011
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Newsmakers
Simon
                              takes on Amazon.com Melangton Daniels White in crosshairs as reformers target IPS

There’s a pitched battle under way in K-12 education as reform advocates and charter schools challenge traditional institutions such as teachers’ unions and education schools.

In the middle of these clashing armies stands Eugene White, superintendent of Indianapolis Public Schools, the state’s largest school district. The 64-year-old, who has twice been named Indiana’s superintendent of the year, has both embraced and bristled at changes rumbling through Indiana’s public schools.

IPS is the eye of the storm for the expanding school-choice initiatives in Indiana. It has lost more than 5,000 students to charter schools, roughly 25 of which lie within its boundaries. IPS also saw 350 of its students sign up for new vouchers, which are scholarships to private schools paid for by taxpayers.

But in his six years at IPS’ helm, White has tried to fight choice with choice, launching a dizzying array of magnet schools that draw students from the entire district—or even beyond it—instead of a limited geographic area.

White also has worked with education reform groups, such as Indianapolis-based The Mind Trust, to bring programs such as Teach for America and the New Teacher Project to Indianapolis. Both offer ways for non-education majors to get into the teaching profession.

He even praised the Legislature for curtailing the rights of teachers’ unions, which forced IPS to pay, promote and dismiss educators based solely on seniority and college credits earned. He said that and other changes would “allow me to get creative.”

White White

But White bitterly opposed the decision by Indiana’s reform-minded state schools chief Tony Bennett to take over control of four poor-performing IPS schools in August—even filing a lawsuit to challenge the decision on two of them.

And at the end of the year, White accused The Mind Trust and Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard of trying to “flood” IPS with charter schools. He also dismissed The Mind Trust’s efforts to put Ballard in charge of the IPS school board and to gut what it called the “bloated bureaucracy” of the district’s central office.

But White, a former basketball star from Alabama, said he’s spoiling for the fight.

“What they’re going to do is create a situation where they’re going to force more competition and more choice. I don’t think we’re going to lose that battle,” White said.•
 

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  1. PJ - Mall operators like Simon, and most developers/ land owners, establish individual legal entities for each property to avoid having a problem location sink the ship, or simply structure the note to exclude anything but the property acting as collateral. Usually both. The big banks that lend are big boys that know the risks and aren't mad at Simon for forking over the deed and walking away.

  2. Do any of the East side residence think that Macy, JC Penny's and the other national tenants would have letft the mall if they were making money?? I have read several post about how Simon neglected the property but it sounds like the Eastsiders stopped shopping at the mall even when it was full with all of the national retailers that you want to come back to the mall. I used to work at the Dick's at Washington Square and I know for a fact it's the worst performing Dick's in the Indianapolis market. You better start shopping there before it closes also.

  3. How can any company that has the cash and other assets be allowed to simply foreclose and not pay the debt? Simon, pay the debt and sell the property yourself. Don't just stiff the bank with the loan and require them to find a buyer.

  4. If you only knew....

  5. The proposal is structured in such a way that a private company (who has competitors in the marketplace) has struck a deal to get "financing" through utility ratepayers via IPL. Competitors to BlueIndy are at disadvantage now. The story isn't "how green can we be" but how creative "financing" through captive ratepayers benefits a company whose proposal should sink or float in the competitive marketplace without customer funding. If it was a great idea there would be financing available. IBJ needs to be doing a story on the utility ratemaking piece of this (which is pretty complicated) but instead it suggests that folks are whining about paying for being green.

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