The latest series of live interviews with area school board candidates was a bit unusual and rerefreshing. The candidates for school board in Pike and Wayne Townships exhibited enthusiasm, passion and commitment for public education in their appearances on Afternoons with Amos.
The candidates who appeared strongly defended their districts and public education, while bemoaning state budget cuts, property tax cap restrictions on education funding. It was the fourth of six scheduled Afternoons with Amos programs featuring interviews with school board candidates in the November 4th election from Marion County districts with the largest African-American enrollments. In Pike Township on Indy’s northwest side, three candidates as running for three board seats. So the candidates are assured of election. Pike school board candidate Michael Downs appeared on the program. The two other Pike candidates, Philip Abrams and Pike Board President Regina Randolph, had scheduling conflicts and couldn’t appear. Downs was extremely enthusiastic about Pike’s progress. The district which has some 11,069 students is 59% Black; the highest Black percentage of any Indianapolis school district and the second largest number of Black students. Nearly two-third of Pike students received free/reduced lunch. Two thirds (66.7%) of Pike students passed both English/Language Arts and Math ISTEP and 92% of Pike high High HS students graduated on time.
In his interview, Downs talked about school financing, the problems of bullying, the challenge of funding to keep improving Pike’s academic offerings. Downs also talked about the districts new career center that will teach Pike students skills that will help them get meaningful jobs after high school. Six of the seven candidates running for the Wayne Township School Board appeared for their interviews on Afternoons with Amos. Incumbents Scott Cline, Stanley Ellis and Michael Nance were joined by challengersn Brandon Bowman, Floyd Keith and Rochelle Olaleye. Another incumbent, Board President Michael (Mike) Morrow had a scheduling conflict and couldn’t appear. Keith and Olaleye are African-American an important note since Wayne Township hasn’t elected a Black school board member from the actual district. Though during the years of busing, a Black held a seat on the Wayne Township School Board representing the Haughville neighborhood. There was very litle difference on the issues between the candidates. All six talked about the progress Wayne Township is making in academics, in a changing district. Wayne Township has some 16,000 students, and no one racial or ethnic group dominates.
Blacks comprise just 30.5% of students. Some 77.5% of Wayne students receive free/reduced lunch reflecting the district’s high percentage of poor and working poor families. Some 64,4% of Wayne students passed ISTEP and 87.2% of high school students graduated on time. In the interview with Amos and listeners, the Wayne Township candidates talked about the problems of school funding, classroom disclipline, bullying policies, parental engagement. But the most important quality of the six Wayne school board candidates were their passionate enthusiasm for public education. And skeptical of things like vouchers and charter schools which the candidates felt diverted precious resources from public schools. The candidates from these two westside districts provided a unique affirmation of why public education is important. Click the Media Players to hear the Afternoons with Amos Interviews with Pike and Wayne Township School Board Candidates. ©2014 WTLC/Radio One. Pike Twn Candidate – Runs 24 Minutes. Wayne Twn Candidates Runs 49 Minutes.