By Joan Marsh, NAACP-Gary, Communication Committee
On Thursday, February 22, 2018 a busload of Gary citizens, students and adults, rode to the Capital in Indianapolis to oppose House Bill 1315. The trip was sponsored by NAACP-Gary and the Urban League of Northwest Indiana. Citizens arrived at the capital carrying protest signs in opposition to HB 1315 and moved about the lofty halls of the State Capital as a group. The citizens were welcomed by state Senator Eddie Melton, D-Merrillville. State Senator Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes later joined him. A smaller contingency from Muncie, also in opposition of HB1315 gathered with the Gary group.
Gary’s public education plight in Indianapolis is being championed by State Senator Melton who forcefully stated at his press conference, that the state of Indiana is ‘taking away our voice and our vote’ when they propose to eliminate citizen elected school board representatives through the passage of HB1315. Following the Governor’s prayer breakfast, Mayor Karen Freeman Wilson and City Council President, Ron Brewer joined the group to demonstrate their support. Both Melton and Tallian spoke fervently against HB1315.
During her talk, Senator Tallian pointed to a poster her staff had prepared admonishing her colleagues and the citizens of Indiana to consider: “Is Your School Next?” A list of a possible fifteen (15) school districts including Gary and Muncie, are listed and may be in jeopardy of being stripped of their privilege to have elected school board representatives. The list was based upon three (3) criteria mirroring those already implied as common to Gary and Muncie. All 15 Systems listed have: 1) “C Grade” or lower, 2) declining enrollment and 3) increasing debt. Unlike Gary, HB1315 proposes to eliminate the elected school board of Muncie and replace it with Ball State University as manager with no end in mind.
Gary residents are encouraged to continue calling the Governor’s office at 317-232-4567 in opposition to House Bill 1315. Senator Mishler, the Chair of the Senate Committee hearing HB 1315 bill can be reached at 317-232-9400. Representative Tim Brown does not represent Gary yet he authored HB1315. Representative Tim Brown can be reached at 317-232-9831.
NAACP is a nationally known, civil rights organization and is not affiliated with either political party. It is headquartered in Baltimore, MD. Visit NAACP Gary at email@example.com. Meetings are held on the first Thursday of each month. Stephen Mays is president.