Today was a great day for Gary Middle College! GMC is a school we started in 2012 with the expressed intention of supporting nontraditional students who want to earn their high school diploma and get prepared to go to college and/or to go into a career. There are many high school students who can’t attend a traditional school due to family issues and demands. Even our traditional school has trouble serving these students due to our daily schedule. Some students need flexibility and more individual attention than traditional schools can provide and many of these students don’t see a need, nor have an interest in programs traditional schools provide such as sports, clubs, and other enrichment opportunities. Enter Gary Middle College (some of our graduates are pictured above).
Gary Middle College provides a flexible, year round schedule with three sessions a day–morning, afternoon and evening–and we cater to students who may have babies or families to support but want to complete high school and go to college or earn a career certification. Yes, we provide child care free of charge to our students. We currently serve 240 students each year and every student who graduates not only earns their high school diploma, they also earn at least three college credits or a career certification.
So what happened today? Even though there is a great need for GMC, the State of Indiana isn’t really prepared to give GMC an accountability grade that accurately reflects our performance. Earlier this year, the state gave GMC a grade of “D.” The reason they gave us a “D” was because they held GMC accountable to traditional school models. That isn’t fair nor appropriate. Most of our students are already out of their graduating class cohort and most of our students are older than 18 years of age. We appealed. Today, we won! After months of filing data and talking to hearing officers and State Board of Education staff, the State Board of Education staff agreed with us and asked the members of the State Board of Education to approve their recommendation that GMC be held accountable under the state’s adult high school accountability model. In fact, the staff was simply asking the members of the Board of Education to follow the state’s law. We won with a 10-1 vote in our favor. Unfortunately, the lone vote against us was State Superintendent Jennifer McCormick. That’s very unfortunate given that state law explicitly defines what an adult high school is and explicitly defines how an adult high school is to be held accountable. No matter. We won! We are very proud of the life changing educational opportunities we provide at GMC and we are very excited to see GMC finally get the grade it earned last year–a “B.”
The school has caught national attention, too. In September of 2017, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos
(pictured above) traveled to Gary, Indiana (on her own dime) to visit both of our schools in Gary, including GMC. She heard many stories from our students aspiring to earn as many college credits and career certifications as possible while in our schools.