INDIANAPOLIS – Indianapolis Public Schools Superintendent Lewis Ferebee wants to do things a little differently than his predecessor.

IPSFerebee, who took over the helm of IPS from anti-charter school superintendent Eugene White, is working with state lawmakers on legislation that would create a path for more charter schools to take root in the city.

The bill would allow IPS to collaborate with charter school operators by either allowing them to operate as independent schools within an IPS building, or turning selected schools within the district into  “innovation schools,” which would also negate collective bargaining at those schools, StateImpact reports.

The plan would create what education reformers in Indianapolis have wanted for a while: a portfolio of different types of schools to provide an array of education options for the city’s families. Under White’s leadership, the district created magnet and other district-run school options, but fought bitterly with charter schools, which White seemed to view as IPS’ nemesis.

The proposed bill would only apply to IPS, but the state’s teachers union and friendly legislators are flipping their lids. They’re particularly upset about the provision in the law that would negate collective bargaining in the new schools.

“You’re setting yourself up to lose a lot of good teachers,” state Rep. Shelli VanDenburgh, a union-supported Democrat from Crown Point, told Ferebee during a recent House Education Committee meeting on the bill.

VanDenburgh blasted the bill’s “complete and utter disrespect” for teachers, StateImpact reports.

What about the Indiana State Teachers Association’s “complete and utter disrespect” for the families of Indianapolis, and Indiana taxpayers in general?

Not only has the ISTA swindled millions of dollars from teachers and taxpayers across the state through its now defunct insurance arm, it has steadfastly opposed virtually every promising education reform in recent memory.

ISTA officials babble on about how charter schools are evil corporations and imply conspiracy theories about corporate powerbrokers using public education to divert money from innocent school kids.

If IPS’ neighborhood schools were doing a stellar job of educating students then there would be no need to consider other options, but that’s not the case. IPS has consistently produced some of the worst student performance in the state, and Indianapolis students deserve every available educational opportunity. Charter school operators certainly can’t do much worse than Eugene White at running schools.

The teachers unions may think it’s disrespectful to strip collective bargaining from schools targeted in the bill, but it’s a critical piece of the legislation necessary to create a new type of school environment that’s not focused on petty labor squabbles.

Ditching collective bargaining will free teachers to voice their perspective directly to administrators, rather than force them to speak through a union representative that’s focused on maintaining an adversarial relationship with school management.

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