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Local charter school students go to Indy for education reform rally

Students from SENSE Charter School Indianapolis perform stage for audience. Supporters IndianaÕs charter school private school voucher programs rallied Statehouse

Students from SENSE Charter School in Indianapolis perform on stage for the audience. Supporters of IndianaÕs charter school and private school voucher programs rallied at the Statehouse where they heard from Republican Gov. Mike Pence.The Indiana Statehouse Rotunda was filled with students and educators in support of education reform Monday, March 11, 2013. Keynote speaker at the rally was former Indiana Pacer Jalen Rose. / Doug McSchooler/for The Star

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Updated: April 13, 2013 6:24AM



INDIANAPOLIS — Students, teachers and parents from Aspire Charter Academy in Gary left early Monday to be part of the Ed Reform Rocks rally at the Indiana Statehouse.

The rally, filling the north wing of the Statehouse with students of all ages from across the state, echoed with the laughter of children who had a chance to get out of the classroom for a day.

Twenty-eight students from Aspire Academy watched the rally from the third floor of the Statehouse and heard speakers such as Gov. Mike Pence, House Speaker Brian Bosma, and Senate President Pro Tempore David Long. The headline speaker was former Indiana Pacer Jalen Rose, who has established charter schools in Detroit, and founded the Jalen Rose Foundation and Charitable Fund.

The governor said he will continue to support efforts to reform education, whether through charter schools or the voucher program.

“We know we have made progress,” Pence said, “but for the sake of our kids we’re going to demand great schools in every community serving every child in the state of Indiana.”

Democratic lawmakers stressed concerns that the state may be diverting too much support from traditional public schools.

LaShawn Pruitt, a sixth-grade teacher from Aspire, said the opportunity to offer charter schools and vouchers helps offer a better educational experience. “Some places can’t have the school they want, and charters offer that opportunity,” Pruitt said.

Felecia Cossey, a parent and school employee, said the smaller class sizes and opportunities were great for her children.

“My kids have had experiences with all different kinds of schools,” she said. “The class sizes are smaller, so it’s a more personal atmosphere.”

After the rally, students had a chance to meet with state legislators, then toured the Statehouse before heading back north.



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