(Chalkbeat talked with the 10 candidates running for a spot on the Indianapolis Public Schools board about their backgrounds, educational philosophies, and why and how they want to influence the school district if they are elected Nov. 4. To compare their positions against other candidates, visit our interactive election tracker.)
Annie Roof, a life-long Irvington resident and Howe High School graduate, first ran for the Indianapolis Public School Board in 2010 because she was concerned the district her three children attended was headed in the wrong direction.
Four years later, she’s the board’s president, making the case that the district has improved and asking voters to pick her over four challengers to help keep the momentum going.
She is running for re-election for an at-large seat, voted on city wide, against four challengers: former state Rep. Mary Ann Sullivan, Light of the World Christian Church Pastor David Hampton, Butler University instructor Josh Owens, and IPS athletic coach Ramon Batts.
Here is what Roof told Chalkbeat about her background, goals for the district and thoughts on education issues:
(Meet the candidates: Attend Chalkbeat and WFYI’s Oct. 23 education conversation event at the Indianapolis Public Library)
Roof said it was “a no brainer” to send her kids to IPS schools since she and her husband are alumni of the district.
“I believe in the public education system,” Roof said. “I put my kids on an IPS bus. I’ve been in Indianapolis my whole life.”
She’s said she wants to reclaim the label “reformer” and said it should mean advocating for students over any other interest.
“Anyone who’s running for school board is a reformer,” Roof said. “You want to take something and make it better. Reclaiming the word ‘reform’ doesn’t mean I work for businesses. I don’t know where that came from. That’s their version of reform.”
She isn’t intimidated by having four challengers for her school board seat.
“The history of who I am and my voting record speaks for itself,” Roof said. “The community in which you live should elect you. I have a lot of respect from my constituents on the job I’ve done. I respond to emails. I’ve been in the schools. I’ve been in Indianapolis my whole life.”
She’s supportive of the the expansion of preschool in Indianapolis but wants to expand the district’s program slowly.
“I support preschool,” Roof said. “I don’t want it to kill the neighborhood preschool programs. I want to make sure we are respecting those community partners. We’re in our second year of preschool for IPS. We haven’t seen if it’s working or how it’s working. I’d like to find tune those things before we expand.”
Her goals for the district are straightforward — but not necessarily easy to accomplish.
“Better teacher compensation,” Roof said. “Fair wages for the classified individuals. Safe schools. I’d love to see a nurse in every school. Healthier and more appealing lunch and breakfast options. Some of it’s simple. They hand a whole orange to a five year old.”
She believes the district should support the wishes of parents who are concerned about too much standardized testing in schools.
“I’d like to see education as a whole move away from so much testing,” Roof said. “If the parents of the opt-out movement continue that, IPS could be supportive of them instead of steering them toward taking the test. IPS could do more with state legislation to argue how it’s stopping learning in the classroom. All kids are different and they learn at different paces.”