School takeover law would disenfranchise citizens

The most serious problem with the school takeover law that the Indiana legislature is considering is that it will deprive the citizens of Gary and Muncie of the right to elect the people who govern their local public schools.

That’s especially problematic for Gary, a city that is 83 percent African-American. Ninety-three percent of students in Gary Community Schools are African-American. The Republican supermajority in the legislature, likely to back the bill, includes 70 representatives and 41 senators. Every single one is white.

There’s a long history in this country of white people preventing black people from voting. It was supposed to end with the 1965 Voting Rights Act, but apparently it didn’t.

Dwight Gardner, pastor of Gary’s Trinity Baptist Church, referenced that history Monday in testimony to the Legislative Council, according to the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette. “The right to vote, to select your own representation, is an essential value of what we call freedom,” he said.

The legislation, House Bill 1315, converts the elected Gary Community Schools board to an advisory board that will have no power and can’t meet more than four times a year. The emergency manager who runs Gary schools would no longer need to consult with the school board and the city’s mayor. Continue reading

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