NAACP Thanks General Assembly for Passing Lead in Schools Legislation
INDIANAPOLIS -- March 12, 2020 -- The Indiana General Assembly this week passed House Bill 1265, sponsored by Rep. Carolyn Jackson, which would require testing of drinking water for lead in all Indiana school buildings by 2023. If levels of lead in drinking water exceed safe levels (15 parts per billion), the school building administrators must take action to reduce the lead levels to meet federal standards. The House on March 10 voted 93-0 to approve of changes made to the bill in the Senate. It now moves to Gov. Eric Holcomb for his signature.
In response, Greater Indianapolis NAACP Branch President Chrystal Ratcliffe issued the following statement:
"The NAACP extends its thanks to Representative Jackson and to the many co-sponsors of House Bill 1265, which will help ensure that drinking water in our schools is safe for children to drink. This legislation shows that Hoosiers of all colors and political beliefs can work together when the health and well-being of our children is at stake. Our work is not done. We urge Gov. Holcomb to sign the bill and ask legislative leaders to appoint a summer study committee to review the issues raised by Sen. Jean Breaux in Senate Bill 285. Sen. Breaux's legislation would have required the State Department of Health to take all necessary steps to increase the number of Medicaid-covered children who are screened for lead poisoning during their well-baby checkups."
Recent News Coverage:
Indianapolis Recorder: NAACP Addresses Lead Poisoning
Indiana Lawyer: Lead Testing Bill Clears Statehouse
Thank you to all who attended the January 2020 NAACP-IU public forums regarding Addressing Risks of Lead Poisoning in Children. For those of you that were not able to attend, here's a link to a recording of our expert panel discussing policies to protect children from lead poisoning. You can also watch a short video that was played during the forum entitled, Lead in Children. At this link, you will find a presentation by Professor Anna Azier of Brown University entitled Lead Exposure and the Black and White Test Score Gap.
After nearly two years of advocacy by the Greater Indianapolis NAACP, the Indianapolis Public Schools and the Marion County Public Health Department began offering lead testing for all kindergarten and first graders in May 2019. Last September, our branch partnered again with the Marion County Public Health Department to offer lead testing for kindergarten and first grade students at Mayor’s Charter Schools, Indianapolis Public Schools and the Metropolitan School District of Pike Township.
Children can be exposed to lead through lead paint dust or paint chips, lead in soil, lead in drinking water and some consumer products. In January 2019, the Marion County health department released the results of a survey that showed 161 of 297 school facilities they tested were in violation of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards for lead levels in drinking water. Affected schools replaced water fountains, added filters and took other corrective measures.
Policy makers took notice. Were children at risk in other school systems across the state?
In January, our branch called on the Indiana General Assembly to act immediately to prevent lead poisoning by moving forward legislation to increase screening for lead hazards in schools or lead levels in young children.
In partnership with the IU McKinney School of Law and the IU Office of Community Engagement, the NAACP in January brought in experts on childhood lead poisoning and public health policy from Michigan, Rhode Island, New York and Washington, D.C. Panelists discussed proven strategies for reducing the dangers posed to children by lead in water, soil and homes.
The National NAACP Education Mission:
The NAACP works to ensure that every disadvantaged student and student of color graduates ready for college or a career by ensuring access to great teaching, fair discipline, equitable resources and challenging curriculum. We are dedicated to eliminating the severe racial inequities that continue to plague our education system. Our ultimate goal is that every student of color receives a quality public education that prepares him or her to be a contributing member of a democracy.
To achieve these goals, the Education Committee of the national board, in concert with education chairs and leaders from across the Association, have settled upon a four-prong strategy to improve educational achievement for disadvantaged students:
Increasing Resource Equity: Target funds to neediest kids
Ensuring College & Career Readiness : A path to success after graduation for all students
Improving Teaching: Growing our own great teachers now in underserved communities
Improving Discipline: Eliminate zero tolerance; keep kids in school* All applied to turnaround schools
Indiana's Ethnic Studies Requirements
Greater Indianapolis NAACP Branch 3053 worked with African American, Native American, Latinx, and Asian cultural education experts to successfully push for passage of a 2017 ethnic studies law, the result of four years of advocacy in the Indiana General Assembly. The law requires that each school corporation, charter school and accredited nonpublic school “shall offer the study of ethnic and racial groups as a one semester elective course in its high school curriculum at least once every school year.”
NAACP Greater Indianapolis Branch 3053 Statement on IPS and Public Education
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has a rich history in Central Indiana, particularly in Greater Indianapolis. We support and advocate for adequate funding for public schools so children can have a quality education. We advocate to ensure that a child’s civil rights have not been violated based on inadequate funding, especially in the areas of special needs and disabilities. NAACP’s earlier history is linked forever to the issue of education: equal access to educational opportunities for students of color compared to that of other American citizens. Equal protection under the law and the right to vote are central to the maintenance and protection of our system of government. A strong public school system that provides for all is another pillar of our democracy.
In the heart of Indianapolis, IPS serves as a hub for educational attainment, jobs and a means to break cycles of poverty and hopelessness. IPS has invested in countless initiatives that have sought to more adequately and fairly serve our community. Under the leadership of Dr. Lewis Ferebee and the Board of School Commissioners, IPS is seeing gains that have not been experienced for nearly a decade. Graduation rates have risen above 80 percent while statewide graduation rates have not experienced the same increase. During a period when the district experienced significant losses in revenue due to property tax caps as well as cuts in federal and state support, IPS invested in additional compensation for teachers.
We applaud the efforts and direction of Indianapolis Public Schools and continue to uplift the great work that is taking place. The NAACP strongly supports adequate funding for public schools so our children will have a quality education.