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Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette
A unicycle sculpture, which doubles as a bike rack, is in place in front of The Journal Gazette building at West Main and Clinton streets, part of IPFW’s Sculpture with Purpose public art project.

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Charter movementís logical conclusion

You’ll find the best illustration of Indiana’s broken school-funding policy in the Sullivan County community of Dugger, population 900. On Tuesday night, 200 people packed into the community center there to beg the Indiana Charter School Board to authorize a K-12 charter school.

They weren’t demanding a charter school to replace a “failing” traditional public school – they simply want a school to replace Union High School and Dugger Elementary, which will close at the end of this school year as the result of budget cuts. The rural Northeast Sullivan school district lost about 150 students over the past five years and – as a result – about 16 percent of its annual funding.

The Terre Haute Tribune-Star reported the community center was decorated in black and gold, Union’s school colors, and some patrons wore shirts that read “you can’t keep a Bulldog down,” a reference to their mascot.

“We know this isn’t easy, nor is it going to get any easier, but we are willing as a community to do anything it takes for our children to have their school,” Terri Heaton told the state charter board.

It’s a good bet that closing the Dugger schools was the last thing the Northeast Sullivan board wanted to do, but the state’s declining support of traditional public schools in favor of charters and voucher schools has left traditional districts with few options.

The state charter board is expected to make a decision on May 1. In the end, the Dugger community might get to keep its school. As a charter school, it will be able to hire less experienced teachers at a lower cost, which seems to be the General Assembly’s intent.

Lawmakers who champion school choice above all else, however, should explain why parents in communities like Dugger have to fight passionately to preserve the choice to send their children to a hometown school.

Food and woman at Yale

Meet Frances Chan, 20 years old, 5 feet 2 inches tall, 92 pounds, and a student at Yale.

Yale evaluated those measurements and determined she had an eating disorder. She was told to gain weight or the school would suspend her. She had to weigh in weekly.

To her credit, she tried but she also fought back. One physician eventually declared that there was more to a healthy body than the body mass index and said Chan was just fine, thank you. Chan maintained she had no eating disorder and did not intend to let Yale give her one.

To its credit, Yale apparently relented, withdrew the threat of expulsion, and told her to weigh in once a semester.

And this is going to upset a lot of people: For the five months she had to do the weekly weigh-in and medical checkup, she said she stuffed herself with junk food, including ice cream twice a day and cookies at bedtime. She gained two pounds.

Sculptures racking up interest

A late spring has meant late blooms, so the whimsical, colorful bike racks popping up around town are an especially welcome sight.

IPFW’s Sculpture with Purpose project is part of the university’s 50th anniversary celebration and a fun follow-up to the Mastodon sculpture project that delighted the community in 2005. This time around, the artwork is functional – a nod to the area’s growing love affair with biking.

The 50 sculptural bike racks don’t look anything like those sturdy steel racks you’re accustomed to seeing. One bright-blue creation, called “Budget Friendly,” mimics a gas pump, with the gauge registering zero. A colorful pinwheel rack brightens the sidewalk outside Visit Fort Wayne Visitors Center on South Harrison Street. “Art Deco” is the eye-catching sculpture outside Tower Bank, just adjacent to the Allen County Courthouse.

The fun continues with a May 17 celebration, Kickstart, on the Main Street arts campus. It’s designed to be a celebration of bikes, art and music in downtown, beginning with a Fort4Fitness spring cycle tour and concluding with musical performances at the Arts United theater.

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