State Senator Eddie Melton

Mayor Prince re-imagines education in Gary with proposal for a new charter school

Contributed By:The 411 News

State Senator Eddie Melton voices concerns on proposal in mayor's State of City address

Like many, I watched the Mayor of Gary's first State of the City address with great interest. After watching and listening closely, by the conclusion of Mayor Prince's remarks, I had sincere concerns.

During his speech, the Mayor unveiled plans for creating yet another charter school in the City of Gary in collaboration with Purdue University.

Purdue is a phenomenal university. My concern isn’t with them. However, I do have an issue with the Mayor leading a charge to bring one more charter school to the city. We have already been ranked a city with the 6th highest percentage of students attending charter schools in the U.S., according to a report from The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

Creating another charter school would significantly set back the progress we are currently making with the recovery of the Gary Community School Corporation (GCSC).

The way the Mayor is reimagining education in Gary would jeopardize the school corporation's fledging success, ultimately having a devastating impact on over 5,000 students, in addition to its teachers and staff. I believe this effort is very poorly conceived.

This is why I’ll be filing legislation to establish a permanent charter school moratorium within the city limits. Representative Ragen Hatcher will be joining me to lead this effort in the House of Representatives.

On election day, Gary residents voted to support the Gary School Corporation’s operating referendum. After two failed prior attempts, this victory was accomplished without the Mayor’s support. Gary voters have spoken. They've made it clear that they want the district to return as a viable public school system. This is why I can’t responsibly remain silent.

Over the past several months, I’ve heard directly from many Gary officials and citizens as they expressed concerns over the lack of transparency and engagement with the current administration.

I urge the Mayor to instruct his administration to improve communications and transparency with his fellow elected officials and the public. With the Mayor being a former city and county councilman, he should consider these to be reasonable expectations.

Earlier this year, at the Mayor's request, Republican legislators that live outside the City of Gary filed a bill in the Indiana General Assembly. He did this without communicating with his own local delegation that not only have to vote on these measures, but live with its result.

We were informed about this bill two weeks before the end of session via a text message from his advisor.

The bill was designed to correct his first misstep after discovering the qualifications of his former Chief of Police were being called into question. State law establishes standards of experience in order to ensure quality in police chief appointees.

Before his swearing-in, I personally took the Mayor-elect to Indianapolis to introduce him to state government leaders. I did this to establish a positive working relationship with him and to let him know that I wanted to support his administration.

I’ve since reached out to the Mayor repeatedly with the hope that we can establish a productive partnership on behalf of the people. While I’m grateful he has accommodated these conversations, they have largely resulted with no action.

Unfortunately, since this time, his actions have communicated that he believes he can rebuild decades of divestment in Gary alone with his advisors. The constituents who elected me and every other elected official in Gary have endowed us with the responsibility to represent their voices. This is not only necessary to ensure we have a healthy democracy, it’s absolutely critical if we are to rescue our beloved city from decades of decline.

We all know that we have a lot of issues to overcome. These challenges are not insurmountable if we face them as a collective. Call me naive, but I believe we are stronger together.

It took the inclusive voices of elected leaders and citizens to build this great nation, our state and our great city and no less is deserved or required to reimagine Gary today!

Story Posted:12/31/2020

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