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South Bend Community Schools push to close achievement gap

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -

Cultural conversations continue in South Bend.

Thursday, community activists challenged officials in South Bend Community Schools to work to close the achievement gap for students and ultimately close the proverbial school to prison pipeline.

“It is possible to make change, and it’s necessary at this point and it’s necessary to do it in a concerted and intentional way,” said Dé Bryant, Director of Social Action Project.

Superintendent Kenneth Spells says he is working to address those issues.

“There is a growing knowledge about, not just what seems to be wrong here, but specifics in terms of what people are focused on, in what they’d like to see changes in.”

Bryant says community interest grows for assurance of students’ in this district’s futures.

That’s why she and members of the group Community Action for Education have been keeping a close eye on the growth of the corporation.

She says in under a year, the district has been set on the right path.

“There are still problems that persist but I want to give credit to the changes that have happened, because we have not seen that in the past,” said Bryant.

She credits the development to Dr. Spells, the district’s new leader and a fresh start to the board of trustees.

But she says there’s still work to be done.

“Now that the talking is done, what are we going to do?” said Bryant.

Spells says the district is finding ways to close the achievement gap.

“We’re meeting quarterly with community members, we’re looking at the data, and we’re having tough conversations,” said Spells.

The district is also hosting student conferences.

This week, the district’s African American Student & Parent Services hosted a three-day higher education summit.

It saw middle school students receive peer mentoring from high schoolers.

It’s all about building a community for the kids, a key element in dr. Spells’ plan for success.

“It’s going to take parents, community members, teachers, principals, the whole city working to address this,” said Spells.

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