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Charter-friendly advocacy groups make endorsements for IPS school board

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett holds up his right hand as four board members hold their right hand up during a swearing in ceremony as new board members.

Political action committees associated with Stand for Children Indiana and Rise Indy raised more than a quarter of a million dollars in 2020 IPS school board elections. But this year, there’s only one competitive race for the board.

Aaricka Washington / Chalkbeat

Two influential groups with strong ties to the charter school movement have both endorsed Hope Hampton over Kristen Elizabeth Phair in the sole Indianapolis Public Schools school board race that’s contested this year.  

Rise Indy and Stand for Children Indiana, two education advocacy nonprofits, endorsed Hampton over Phair in the school board race for District 3, which encompasses the midtown area of Indianapolis, including Mapleton-Fall Creek and Broad Ripple.  

Stand said in a post from a parent on its website that the group is endorsing Hampton “because of her stance on pushing for positive change in IPS schools and our belief that she will put kids first in every decision she makes as a school board member.”  

The two nonprofits advocate for equitable education and engage parent and community leaders within IPS. Political action committees associated with Rise Indy and Stand raised significant donations for past school board races.  

Rise Indy said in a statement that Phair was invited to but did not participate in its endorsement process.  

In a statement provided to Chalkbeat, Phair said that she responded to both organizations saying she would be happy to talk with them but would not be immediately available.

“There are neighborhood, choice and charter schools in District 3,” Phair said. “My goal is to get as much feedback as possible from every school in my district. I think the best way to do that is to meet families where they are at and find out how the Rebuilding initiative will impact them.”

Candidates endorsed by these groups stand to potentially bolster their campaign coffers. Last year, both groups spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on multiple candidates through their political action committees. 

But this year’s election only features four candidates seeking three open seats. District 5 candidate Nicole Carey and at-large candidate Angelia Moore are running unopposed.  Stand and Rise also endorsed Moore and Carey in their unopposed races. 

But given that those races aren’t competitive, it’s unclear whether they’ll attract as much interest from donors as they have in the past.  

Hampton, the owner of a local interior design company, is an IPS graduate with a student in an IPS high school. Phair, a former state public defender, is the parent of three IPS students.

The 11-member Rise Indy endorsement committee consists of charter school staff and students, as well as parents and community leaders.

“We are pleased to offer our support to three compelling candidates we believe will center the needs of all Indianapolis students once they are elected to serve,” Rise Indy President and CEO Jasmin Shaheed-Young said in a statement.

Stand for Children’s endorsement committee included parents, teachers, and guardians. 

In 2020, board members Kenneth Allen, Will Pritchard, Diane Arnold, and Venita Moore collectively received more than a quarter of a million dollars in direct and in-kind donations from both Stand and Rise Indy’s PACs. 

The election is Nov. 8.  

 Amelia Pak-Harvey covers Indianapolis and Marion County schools for Chalkbeat Indiana. Contact Amelia at apak-harvey@chalkbeat.org.

This story has been updated to include comments from Kristen Elizabeth Phair.

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