The NAACP Conference of Indiana has called upon lawmakers as well as the department of education to work on racial inequities in education for Black students, the City-County Observer reports.

Last week, the Indiana State NAACP released the Indiana Black Academic Excellence Plan during a Facebook Live event in conjunction with legislators and education experts. Gwen Kelley of the Greater Indianapolis NAACP served as lead editor of the plan.

“This data speaks volumes,” Kelley argued. “This is a problem, and if it is not addressed, it will not be fixed.”

According to the report, only 8% of Black 10th graders passed the state’s math standardized testing and early half of all students in the state passed the same test in 2019.

A major benchmark of the plan is to increase test results by double-digits through “mandating full-day kindergarten and offering full-day pre-K, supporting social and emotional learning, and providing equitable funding and adequate support personnel in schools.”

Aleesia Johnson, Superintendent of the Indianapolis Public Schools spoke out in support of the plan, saying the school district has already implemented some of the ideas detailed in the comprehensive plan

“We should not accept as normal data that overwhelmingly shows that we must act with boldness and urgency,” Johnson said.

One reason for the educational disparities is access to technology and the internet for students. One speaker said that one specific student does their homework in a McDonald’s lobby. In a recent study conducted by Pew Research Center, Black and Hispanic adults in the United States remain less likely than white adults to say they own a traditional computer or have high-speed internet at home.

Another feature of the plan requires the governor to establish “closing the academic and opportunity gap as a strategic target,” in partnership with the department of education. Other bullet points were making the department’s data easily accessible for community members, offering culturally competent professional development for staff, and hiring an education equity officer.

The plan will also seek to relaunch Indiana’s plan for the Every Student Succeeds Act with meetings between the Indiana Department of Education, the governor’s office, and Secretary of Education Katie Jenner.

“We need to take this plan very seriously,” Mark Russell, director of education and family services for the Indianapolis Urban League said. “We need to stop being sidetracked by issues that are not relevant and are just political games that are being played upon students who are the most vulnerable.”

Indiana Black Legislative Caucus member Rep. Robin Shackleford, D-Indianapolis, who attended the webinar said that the educational issue will be a priority of the legislature for the 2023 session of the Indiana General Assembly.

“The 15 strategies here are a start, and the IBLC is here to help,” Shackleford added.