Close to 90 educators from around the world have sent in letters of intent after the call was sounded for applicants who want to help Indiana transform its educational system. They are hoping for the chance to create and implement a brand new educational system for Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) via a one-of-a-kind fellowship program.
Recently, The Mind Trust, IPS and Mayor Greg Ballard's office presented the idea to look for educators from around the globe to help design a new educational system. Issues range from how long a school day should be to how math and English should be taught. The idea is to reverse the downward spiral of nine failing IPS schools by 2017-18.
No more than nine educators will be given one-year fellowships of $100,000 each, writes Eric Weddle for the IndyStar. They will also receive $29,000 in compensation and free reign of The Mind Trust office throughout the three-year program. The Mind Trust has promised to donate more than $1.1 million, which is the price of the Innovation School Fellowship program, via fundraising.
The Mind Trust is an educational transformation company. It announced that 86 letters of intent have been received from applicants, most of them in Indiana, including faculty from IPS, township and charter schools, writes Weddle. Some applicants are from as far away as China as well as 10 other US states. Applicants include teachers, principals, retired district superintendents, Ivy League graduates, a former intelligence analyst for the US Department of State, university professors and former newspaper editors.
"The rich applicant pool for the Innovation School Fellowship shows the tremendous interest among educators to lead and innovate, and we're excited to provide an opportunity for them to do that within IPS," IPS Superintendent Lewis Ferebee said in a statement. "The district is looking forward to being part of the review process and selecting talented fellows who can make a significant impact on student outcomes in IPS."
Founder and CEO of The Mind Trust, David Harris, stated that the fellowships give educators freedom to create and start schools with accountability and the assistance of IPS resources, reports Weddle. The final say goes to the IPS school board to give the go-ahead on a proposal if a fellow's ideas are accepted and integrated into a school.
However, like in most politics, not everyone agrees. President of the Indianapolis Education Association, Rhondalyn Cornett, gave a speech to the IPS School Board and wondered about The Mind Trust's influence on the district.
"Across the state, schools have consistently receive failing grades and have not come under such extreme consequences," she said. "I need this school board to consistently ask, why are we prosecuted more than others?"
According to its website, The Mind Trust empowers gifted educators to change K-12 education by creating new initiatives to focus on some of its most problematic issues. The Mind Trust also assists the fellows as they start their new endeavors in Indianapolis.