Mayor Jerome Prince

Why Gary needs a Purdue Polytechnic High School

Contributed By: Mayor Jerome Prince

An academically rigorous learning environment for the high achieving students

The rapidly changing global economy demands that our high school students master skills and develop competencies needed for entry into the workforce or success in college.

A high school diploma no longer guarantees a high school graduate a job or college admissions. He or she must be able to demonstrate an ability to perform the work.

For years, our community has struggled to provide the majority of Gary students with the academic rigor or vocational training to excel once they graduated high school. These challenges prompted more than 10 years of interventions and technical assistance by the State of Indiana Board of Education and Indiana Department of Education.

In 2017, this culminated with the Indiana General Assembly legislatively taking over the Gary Community School Corporation and placing its academics and finances under the control of the Indiana Distressed Unit Appeals Board.

As I prepared in 2019 to take office as Mayor, I began to consider solutions for what my transition team had defined as a three-prong education challenge for Gary.

First, we must improve early education delivery and increase the number of children that begin school knowing how to read. Second, we must find supports, additional to school efforts, for the remediation of students that have fallen behind, and third, we must focus more attention and resources toward students that are academically achieving and performing at or above grade-level.

These education barriers not only impact our children, they provide an obstacle to attracting potential residents and businesses that would like to relocate to Gary. Adults with children want to know where can my child receive an education from a top-rated school if I live in Gary.

The academic performance data for our schools poorly reflects on the City.

In 2019, Gary Community School Corporation only graduated 57.9% of the class cohort. Only 7.8% of its 3rd to 8th graders tested on grade-level in English and Math, and only 11% of 10th graders were on grade-level in English and Math.

Facing this reality, I reached out to Purdue Polytechnic about establishing Purdue Polytechnic High School in Gary to provide an academically rigorous learning environment in the City of Gary for the high achieving students and those not in need of remediation.

The success of Purdue Polytechnic’s Indianapolis schools gave me confidence that its introduction into Gary would assure we were providing the best opportunities for high performing Gary students, as well as providing an option for some Gary families to return their kids from attending schools in other school districts and private schools.

A Purdue Polytechnic High School would also give a quality assurance to prospective residents and businesses that their children could receive an education within the city from an institution backed by the world renowned Purdue University.

I fully support Gary Community School Corporation on its long path back to financial solvency and academic competence, but I will not stand by and watch another generation of Gary students slowed and inhibited in their learning due to problems with the school system.

Our students who are high performers, deserve better, and my administration will continue to pursue this option for them.

Story Posted:01/08/2021

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