Gary public schools

Gang graffiti marks the blackboards of a classroom in the former Emerson School for Visual and Performing Arts in Gary in 2015. Tattered remnants of paper, school books, furniture and other supplies still lay strewn about the floor of the abandoned building, which was completely open and freely accessible via damaged windows.

Marc Chase, The Times

For a party that bills itself as progressive, leading Indiana Democrats are woefully stuck in an era of failing status quo where Gary public schools are concerned.

The top two Democrats in the Indiana General Assembly are condemning House-approved legislation that would further minimize a Gary Community School Corp. Board of Trustees, already rightly rendered all but meaningless by a state-appointed emergency manager.

House Democratic Leader Terry Goodin, D-Austin, and Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, both decried the bill as "a smack in the face of democracy" last week.

But the true smack in the face would come to the taxpayers, parents and students of the Gary public school system if a school board that played a role in the district's utter demise were ever hailed again as an authority.

The Democrat-maligned House Bill 1315 is an appropriate indictment of a school board that had been entrusted with the well being of Gary's public school system, but instead held court over a demise to financial and educational ruins.

We wrote in support of the bill last month and continue urging the Indiana Senate to adopt it — and for Gov. Eric Holcomb to sign it into law.

The bill would alter state law, reflecting the school board's role as merely an advisory board, rather than the district's governing body. The governing role already has been assumed by a state-appointed emergency manager, who unfortunately has a monumental cliff to ascend in righting the school system's performance and financials.

The legislation also correctly strips salaries of board members rendered virtually meaningless by the state takeover.

A staggering $100 million debt burden, a host of shuttered and abandoned school buildings that have become magnets for gang activity and violent crime and a failing educational system prompted that takeover.

It defies reason why anyone, much top leaders of the state’s minority party, would stand in support of the architects of such failure.

The Gary school system is the very definition of a desperate situation. The numbers and anecdotal realities all back this up.

An emergency manager was the desperate measure enacted by the state to counter it.

Now it's time to codify that measure into state law.

Anyone who invokes democracy as justification for standing in the way of these needed measures is perpetuating fraud on an already failed population in the city of Gary.

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Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Local News Editor Marc Chase, Lake County Editor Crista Zivanovic, Porter/LaPorte County Editor Doug Ross and Deputy Local Editor Erin Orr.