INDIANAPOLIS -- The Democrat wants to attract top teachers to Indianapolis by offering them free or cheap housing. The Republican wants to streamline school enrollment and have more control over the school board.
Republican Chuck Brewer sees education as a key to the city’s success. So he talked about it early in the campaign. used education as his first policy platform early in the summer. Most of his policies focus on IPS, since it’s the city’s flagship school district.
"Now, the mayor doesn’t have control of the schools, (but) the schools have an incredible impact the success of our city. So I believe we need to be even more involved."
He’s proposing adding two more members to the Indianapolis public school board. Brewer says that would make it easier for the school district to get what it needs from the mayor’s office or other city departments.
"I want them to be able to turn to a board member and say, ‘we need help,’" he said. "And they’re going to get it."
But it’s an idea that could face an uphill battle to implement. It would likely face strong opposition from educators and current school board members. And it would take approval to overhaul the board makeup.
Brewer also wants to make it much easier for parents to compare and enroll children in charter or public schools. He says there should be a one-stop online destination to do that.
"Wouldn’t it be great if you were a parent and you could go to one website and you could compare and contrast all the different schools based on the needs for your child," Brewer said. "And then wouldn’t be great once you found that school, to be able to click one button and enroll your child in that school? And the city can help."
Brewer and Hogsett are vying to replace Republican Mayor Greg Ballard, who is retiring. This is Brewer’s first campaign. He opened two downtown restaurants after two decades in the Marine Corps. The Democrat, Hogsett is a longtime politician and former U.S. Attorney in Indiana.
Hogsett says a quality education for the city’s children is a key to reducing violent crime involving teens.
"The greatest barrier to educational progress in recent years, can be found outside the classroom in parts of our community where students don’t even see college – don’t even think of college as a possibility," Hogsett said.
A cornerstone of Democratic Hogsett’s education plan is getting better teachers to work in Indianapolis. "We must recruit and retain the best teachers in the country," he's said.
To do that, he wants to offer them a perk: Ownership of a vacant house currently in the city’s possession for a significantly reduced price, depending on the quality of the home. The teachers would have to have good evaluations and live in the homes for several years.
"This is an incredibly important incentive, beyond added salary, that I think could help attract quality teachers to the urban school districts," Hogsett said.
Hogsett also wants to create a mentoring program for at-risk students to shepherd them to graduation. He’d also form multi-agency teams to work with students living in poverty and one focused on reducing suspensions.
"This matters because students who are suspended from school have far worse outcomes than those who are not," he said.
Both candidates say they want to expand pre-K opportunities, as started by Mayor Ballard. Brewer and Hogsett both want more young children able to enroll in pre-K for free.