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David McGuire and ShaDe’ Watson, Indianapolis Teaching Policy Fellows: Testimony Before the City-County Council of Marion County and Indianapolis in Support of the Mass Transit Plan

January 30, 2017
My name is David McGuire and I’m a principal at Tindley Preparatory Academy located on the east side of Indianapolis and my name is ShaDe’ Watson and I am a Special Education Teacher at Charles A. Tindley Accelerated High School also on the east side of Indianapolis and we are representing district nine.

Zip code should not determine a student’s access to a quality education. The approval of the Mass Transit plan will make it easier for families to choose better-performing schools for their children to attend. Families often send their children to schools where there is a bus available. A more effective transportation system will allow families to explore schools outside of their neighborhood. 

I recall a conversation with a mother during an Open House this past summer. The Open House invited new families to enroll their children at Tindley Preparatory Academy and a mother who attended desperately wanted to enroll her child in our school. The only problem was that she did not have a vehicle and the young man would have to catch the bus to attend our school. She expressed her frustrations because she did not feel comfortable with her young man riding the bus early in the morning because of the unreliability of the route and the times.

The mom left dejected after realizing the harsh reality that her son would not have the opportunity to attend our school, a school she felt would greatly change his trajectory both academically and behaviorally. Instead she re-enrolled him in the school where a bus was provided, a school that had failed him year after year. This mother and other low income families who do not own a vehicle or have a reliable vehicle see the opportunities to have their child at better performing school snuffed away due to unreliable transportation. 
The new mass transit plan is bound to have countless positive ramifications on our students’ academic, social, and emotional trajectory. The Tindley scholars and all other students who take public transit to school need the Indianapolis City-County Council to approve it. Teachers, school administrators, students, families, and businesses will all greatly benefit from a transit system that is more efficient, reliable, and safe. What better way to connect the city then to allow everyone the opportunity to travel freely across the city. We are thinking long term about what the approval of this plan can do. In order to progress as a city we must ensure that we committing all resources to adequate transportation for all Indianapolis families, especially those who do not have the means.

We thank you for this opportunity to speak and we truly hope you consider approving this plan because no student should be limited in taking full advantage of an educational opportunity because of transportation.
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