Chalkbeat asked the 10 candidates running for an Indianapolis Public School Board to answer a survey about their positions on issues facing the district and its students. Below is one response. If you want to see how these answers compare to other candidates, please visit our interactive election tracker at in.chalkbeat.org/ipselection2014.
David Hampton is senior pastor of Light of the World Christian Church in Indianapolis. He is an Indianapolis native and a graduate of Indianapolis’ Christian Theological Seminary. He is married and has two children. He is running for an at-large seat on the board against Annie Roof, Ramon Batts, Mary Ann Sullivan and Josh Owens.
1. Do you support the direction of the school district under Superintendent Lewis Ferebee?
What, if anything, do you like about Ferebee’s leadership of the district? What would you change?
I like that Dr. Ferebee is progressive in his approach to turn around failing schools. He needs additions to the school board who will think innovatively.
2. Do you believe the operation of IPS’ central office is efficient?
What is your opinion of the efficiency of IPS’ central office operations? How much money should be spent outside the classroom on high-level district operations?
I believe there are very dedicated and talented individuals in the central office of 500-plus employees. However, more monies should be spent inside the classroom, as well as higher teacher pay.
3. Should the school district partner with charter schools?
Do you support the House Bill 1321 “innovation network” law? What is the ideal relationship between the district and a charter school operator?
Yes. However, the ideal relationship would be one in which IPS teachers are also allowed to remain covered by their (union) contract even if their school is run by a charter organization. Abandoned IPS buildings that would be available to charter school operators, provide a means by which to improve the overall performance of IPS district — if the school performs well.
4. Do you support the state’s voucher program?
If yes, why do you support vouchers? If not, would you propose ending it?
I support vouchers because I believe parents benefit from the ability to choose the best school for their children. Vouchers provide the financial assistance to parents who, otherwise, may not be able to send their children to the school of choice.
5. The district is moving toward more partnerships with outside groups like The Mind Trust and Stand for Children. Do you support stronger partnerships with school reform organizations?
If not, why not? If yes, what would you envision those partnerships with charter school organizations look like?
I am a member of the Lewis-Hubbard Group, and have partnered with The Mind Trust on issues regarding education as a community leader and advocate who engages the community. I envision a welcomed dialogue and continued partnership with the Mind Trust. I believe Stand for Children does good work, but I would caution against an abundance of lobbying without the buy-in from the school board and community at-large.
6. Teachers haven’t received a pay raise in several years. What budget changes, if any, would you support to make this happen?
I support teacher raises. I would begin by asking the question, “Where is the $30 million surplus in the IPS budget?” and “What are the plans to include a teacher raise with a portion of those monies?”
7. What percentage of a teacher’s performance evaluation score should be based on student test score growth?
Education should be predicated upon teaching more than testing. There are too many nebulous factors that contribute to test scores. A lower percentage of a teacher’s performance should be based upon student test scores, and a higher percentage on cognitive development, grades and some metric of progress of the student’s proficiency.
8. The state takeover process has been scrutinized recently. What’s your proposal for how to improve schools that have been rated an F for six straight years?
Implement innovative learning models such as vocational, blended learning or partner with other schools. Also, some level of a public school’s success is dependent upon support from the community. I would engage parents and community stakeholders for additional ideas.
9. Ferebee has identified 11 low-performing priority schools to receive extra support and resources. What is your vision for how to improve IPS’ low-performing schools?
I would propose a system of measuring student gains in proficiency, coupled with allowing innovative and creative models of instruction, such as a blended-learning model (utilizing both teacher instruction and computer-based technology). Also, duplicate some of the practices of high performing IPS schools such as Merle Sidener Gifted Academy.
10. What is your vision for how schools within the district should be governed? What role should principals and their assistants have in leading schools?
I believe principals should be given the freedom to choose and hire the talent needed to compliment the school in which they lead.
11. What didn’t we ask? Tell us about your platform, or another issue you’re passionate about.
I am also passionate about parent engagement and empowerment and advocacy for our children, especially in the area of early childhood education.