OPINION: Children Can't Wait for Slow-Moving Reforms

From Robert L. Hoy writing in The Indianapolis Star:

The recent Mind Trust plan to transform Indianapolis Public Schools is just that – a proposal. What matters most is whether the “proposed plan” will ever become a reality for the benefit of the children and families IPS serves. The jury is still out on that and, unfortunately, may be for a long time. Reform, especially of IPS, doesn’t happen overnight.

My friend and mentor, J. Patrick Rooney, started this journey in 1991 with the help of then-state Sen. Louis Mahern, D-Indianapolis, who proposed legislation to give each IPS family the capacity to choose a school for its child, public or private. The idea didn’t catch on politically then, but Pat, frustrated by the politics involved, launched the privately funded Educational CHOICE Charitable Trust to provide low-income families an opportunity for a private school education.

The Trust, Indiana’s first certified scholarship-granting organization (SGO), continues to serve families in both IPS and Marion County today.

Pat recruited some powerful allies over the years in his quest to provide quality options in education for economically challenged families. One of those, Fred Klipsch, worked closely with Pat, and upon Pat’s death in 2008 took the lead in this important effort. It was Fred, working quietly and diligently behind the scenes, who championed the Scholarship Tax Credit and brought it to a reality. While proud of the accomplishment, and the opportunity for additional SGOs like CHOICE to open and serve families and students throughout the state, Fred continued his quest to bring even more educational options to the families of Indiana. Once again, in his own unique way, Fred put all the necessary pieces of the puzzle in place to bring this historic school choice legislation to our state.

Today, Pat’s dream is a reality. Children from families of limited means are no longer limited to neighborhood schools that may not meet their needs, and that is a very good thing.