In a recent paid advertisement, Unify Carmel claimed that the latest ISTEP/ILEARN test results show a dramatic decline in the academic performance of CCS schools. Unify Carmel blames a greater focus on diversity, equity and inclusion in education for this decline. These claims are simply untrue.
For one thing, it is difficult to compare the two sets of tests. Indiana shifted from ISTEP to the more rigorous ILEARN in 2019. It is reasonable to expect a decline in results when introduced to a more difficult testing regime. A better metric would be to compare CCS with local and Indiana schools. Here, as other local news outlets show, CCS retained a clear lead over many other districts in the state. Indeed, CCS continues to be one of the leading school districts in the country.
Unify Carmel omits another important factor when lamenting the state of local schools: the pandemic. The 2019-2021 testing period coincides almost entirely with the spread of COVID-19 across the globe. Imagining that the uncertainty and worry generated by the pandemic would have no effect on student performance is simply an exercise in magical thinking.
As for claims about diversity, equity and inclusion, what actual effect has this had? Unify Carmel uses smoke and mirrors to avoid the fact that claims rest on nothing but anecdote and hearsay. LGBTQ+ students should feel more welcome in CCS. When teachers focus on the Black experience in America in social studies, history and English lessons, they are performing academic excellence; their work reflects new academic approaches and ways of thinking about American history. As every historian knows, the facts of history remain the same, but how we perceive these facts changes.
Unify Carmel wants you to think that CCS schools are failing. But their recent two-page advertisement is just an exercise in sleight-of-hand. Don’t fall for their lies. Instead, ask why this group is trying to pursue a national political agenda by insulting the hard work of parents, students and teachers.
Luke Reader, Carmel