The School City of East Chicago's new elected board has been sworn in. This is a reform that is long overdue.
Prior to this new board, the city's School Board members were all political appointees. Now Valparaiso has the only Northwest Indiana school board not subject to direct election by the people they represent.
The new East Chicago School Board members have their work cut out for them. The district has been making progress, but it has a long way to go.
The Indiana Department of Education gave the school district an F on its accountability report card each of the last three years. Only about 55 percent of students passed the state's English/language arts end of course assessment, and just over 57 percent passed the math assessment.
The district's graduation rate is 67 percent, well under the state average. According to this measure, one-third of the district's students fail to accomplish this basic achievement.
In another measure, less than 40 percent of the district's students leave school ready for college or career.
East Chicago has a high percentage of its students failing to learn adequately. That's a serious problem that must be addressed.
The school district already has a strategic plan in place and already is making progress, albeit slowly, to achieve its goals.
The newly elected School Board's responsibility includes making sure the faculty and staff have all the training and tools necessary to educate children well. It must hold the administration and faculty accountable.
Likewise, the voters must hold the School Board members accountable.
Having an elected board is both a privilege and a responsibility. It is now up to East Chicago residents to offer guidance to these elected board members and hold them accountable. Praise them when they earn it, and boot them out of office when that's warranted.