John King, former secretary of education under Barack Obama, will deliver the keynote address during The Mind Trust’s Celebrating Education Progress event June 3 at the Indiana Roof Ballroom. The Mind Trust is an education nonprofit.
King’s speech is half a celebration of Indianapolis’ progress to providing quality education to more students and half a call to quicken the pace of that progress.
“We were thinking about how we are going to most effectively celebrate the progress while also instilling the urgency in our community around the work that needs to be done, and there’s just nobody that would be more effective at that than Secretary King,” Brandon Brown, CEO of the Mind Trust, said. “It’s an incredible honor for him to be here today and for him to share his national perspective.”
King called Indianapolis a “bright spot” in the country’s education landscape, praising the city’s support for diverse options of education. However, he also added that Indianapolis still falls into national trends of systemic inequities and must therefore continue to seek improvement.
King specifically praised Indianapolis’ politicians, businesses and nonprofits for supporting local education, which has recently led to an increase in graduation rates and hours students spend learning. For example, he mentioned The Mind Trust’s talent pipeline programs equips principals and teachers to effectively teach students who are low income, have disabilities or English is a second language.
“I’ve never visited a good school without a good principal,” King said.
He also commended partnerships between charter and district schools. Indianapolis educators largely understand that successful schools are beneficial for the whole city, which creates less tension around education than in other cities, he said.
“Affluent families in Indiana will do better if low income kids in Indiana are doing better,” King said. “You cannot build walls high enough around your house or your community to separate the fate of your kid the fate from the kid down the street … Everybody’s fates are bound up together.”
Despite the city’s progress, King point out minority and low-income students still have less access to Common Core classes, advanced classes, college preparatory resources and quality teachers.
“In Indianapolis, as well as the rest of the country, we too often give the least to the kids who need the most,” King said.
King used the term “urgent” to describe the problem, noting America’s rate of college completion dropped from first in the world to 13th as other countries outpaced America in improving education, according to King. He said maintaining prosperity in Indianapolis and the rest of the nation requires all students receive quality education to prepare them for work.
“Majority of kids in the nation’s public schools are children of color,” King said. “If we fail to educate low-income students and students of color we have no future as a country. Our economy has no future. Our democracy has no future.”
Contact staff writer Ben Lashar at 317-762-7848. Follow him on Twitter @BenjaminLashar.
Celebrating Education Progress
John King will speak at the Mind Trust’s Celebrating Education Progress June 3 at the Indiana Roof Ballroom, 140 W. Washington Street. The reception begins at 5:30 p.m. and dinner begins at 6:30 p.m.