Indianapolis is changing, quickly, as more people than ever before are moving in from other countries.
For schools, it’s forcing big changes to the way they teach in order to help their children learn to speak English. Sometimes, children are placed in difficult situations, like when they are required to take tests they can’t read.
Schools say it isn’t fair that they’ve been given less money — not more — for English language learning programs at the very moment when they face a flood of new children who need those services.
Beginning Monday, Chalkbeat will publish a series of stories in collaboration with the Indianapolis Star and WFYI Public Media examining the struggles of Indianapolis schools to effectively prepare immigrant children so they graduate high school ready for college or careers.
Through the series, you’ll meet refugees who came to Indiana after escaping war who had never before learned by sitting at a desk and teachers who have had to change the way they teach to reach a growing group of kids who can’t understand a word they say.
You’ll meet May Oo Mutraw, a refugee advocate so concerned about the fate of the city’s Burmese children she started a center to help them with their schoolwork.
You’ll meet Eddie Rangel, an teacher in Indianapolis Public Schools who found he could best connect with his students only by embracing his own identity.
And you’ll meet Elly Mawi, a senior at Perry Township’s Southport High School who came to this country with limited English, but she will graduate third in her class and head next to college.
Policymakers in the state have only begun to grapple with the challenges these students face. With much work ahead to better understand how to serve them, Chalkbeat aims to be your guide.
– Photos by Kelly Wilkinson, Robert Scheer of the Indianapolis Star