For many Hoosiers, education was not a priority compared to the immediate needs of the family farm or business. However, some individuals sought knowledge beyond the basic reading and arithmetic taught in single-classroom schools. To meet these aspirations, the state of Indiana established learning institutions such as the Wayne County Seminary in Centreville (later Centerville). For several decades, hundreds of young men and women studied higher education within its walls.
Indiana has seen a rapid growth in non-white student enrollment, but white students in most districts are still fairly segregated and interactions between white and non-white students are low. The average black Indiana student is likely to attend a school where 68% of students are not white, while the average white Indiana student is likely to attend a school where 19% of students are not white. Segregation by income level occurs in both rural and urban areas. On average, non-white students in Indiana are more likely than white students to attend schools where more than half of students receive free meals.
Between 1850 and 1860, there was a decline in the black population due to the State Constitutional Exclusion Act of 1851 (“No black or mulatto shall enter or settle in the State, after the adoption of this Constitution). The Indiana Revised Statutes of 1881 formally eliminated the exclusion act from the constitution (Rev.). Starting in 1914, World War I created job opportunities in the manufacturing industry for Indiana's black community (Thornbrough & Ruegamer, 2000). In 1920, 97 percent of Indiana's population was white (and 95 percent were native-born).
The Ku Klux Klan reached its strongest point in Indiana in the 1920s (Thornbrough, 199). Although there was little violence during this period, in 1930, two young black men were lynched in Marion. Soon after, the Indiana state legislature passed a law requiring the removal of a sheriff in a county where a lynching occurred. After World War II, every major city in Indiana saw another major wave of black migration.
In Indianapolis, which is still home to the state's largest black population, housing became a major problem. Outside the slums, there were few housing options for the black population; many families lived in sheds or garages. Even for black families and individuals who could afford the down payment, housing was unavailable and banks were reluctant to grant loans. A similar lack of suitable housing and unfair housing practices existed in Fort Wayne, South Bend, and Evansville (Thornbrough & Ruegamer, 2000).
In the early 1900s, there were two waves of Mexican immigrant workers in the Midwest. The first was largely due to the high demand for workers in the steel industry; many of these workers settled in Gary and East Chicago (Lane & Escobar, 198). The second wave was due to anti-Catholic provisions of the Mexican Constitution of the late 1920s. This article provides an overview of how education has evolved over time in Indianapolis.
It focuses on key legislation and jurisprudence affecting segregation1 in public schools since 1816 to present day. It also includes relevant federal legislation and case law. According to Thornbrough, segregation increased in the first half of the 20th century mainly through “custom and prejudice” rather than through law (2000). The compulsory attendance laws of 1897 and 1901 required all children between seven and fourteen to attend school but said nothing about race (Ind.).
In 1967, families of black children attending Linden School in South Bend filed a lawsuit to stop construction of a new school in a predominantly black neighborhood; this lawsuit was put on hold when roof collapsed. Later it was resolved when school corporation agreed to seek better racial balance (Reynolds, 199). Also that year federal district court investigated allegations of illegal segregation in Kokomo schools; judge ordered closure of two predominantly black elementary schools (“The NAACP Wins a Victory” 1967; Reynolds 1998; Thornbrough & Ruegamer 2000). Relevant federal law from 1960s-1970s included educational opportunities and facilities for all regardless of race, creed, national origin, color or sex.
The Mind Trust partnered with Mayor's Office and Indianapolis Public Schools to develop Innovation School Fellowship which provides talented leaders with time and resources to launch autonomous district schools in Indianapolis. Another study conducted by researchers at Indiana University found that elementary students who enrolled and stayed at mayor-sponsored Indianapolis charter schools outperformed their peers at 11 school districts.