Last week, Secretary Duncan’s “Listening and Learning” tour stopped in Indiana to hear from a broad range of stakeholders about education in Indiana and their thoughts education reform.
Peter Groff, Director of the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships represented the Secretary in the discussions and events around the city of Indianapolis.
Groff and other staff visited Ivy Tech Community College, which reported a significant increase in dual enrollment courses during the last school year, up almost 44% from the previous year. More than 16,000 students took dual credit classes, saving Indiana parents nearly $8 million in higher education costs. Growing enrollment and aging facilities has required Ivy Tech, like many of the nation’s community colleges, to stretch limited resources to serve even more students.
President Obama’s proposed American Graduation Initiative was welcome and exciting news. As Ivy Tech President Thomas Snyder put it, “The future of the middle class of America depends on community colleges.”
At Ivy Tech Community College, Groff also sat down with a group of community, faith, and philanthropic leaders to hear their concerns and suggestions. The discussion ranged from ideas on changing federal Title I funding to ways community-based organizations can help increase parental involvement in schools.
In the afternoon, Groff met with students and staff at George Washington Community High School in west Indianapolis. The conversation revolved around how community involvement spurred the reopening of the school a few years after it was closed down, and how partnerships with over 50 community organizations help to meet a full-range of student and family needs. Education, policy, and elected leaders also joined in a discussion at the school to provide input on the federal education agenda.
The Indiana tour stop also included discussions with staff and partners of The Mind Trust, a public-private partnership that is bringing education innovation to Indianapolis, and the Greater Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce. Groff was also interviewed by local radio show host Amos Brown for a segment on WTLC radio’s signature talkshow Afternoons with Amos.
The visit was capped off with Peter Groff giving the keynote address to hundreds of educators gathered for an education conference at the Indiana Black Expo. Groff shared the secretary’s and the president’s education agenda, and told of his own experience with education reform efforts. He noted the persistent and unacceptable achievement gaps between black and white students highlighted in a new National Center for Education Statistics report. He emphasized how everyone has a part to play in educating children, and challenged the audience to have the courage and determination to create real and lasting education reform.