Between 2012 and 2013, the FAMILIES TALK Oral History recorded the school memories of 195 past and present students, parents and grandparents with Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) and charter school experiences. The goal was to explore how school experiences differ between people, places and times. The result is a vivid record of eight decades of urban life, from segregation to busing to school choice and re-segregation. Narrators range in age from 15 to 94 and represent diverse ethnicities, communities and careers. Janitors, scientists, teachers, cooks and many more have their say. Their stories illuminate trends in K-12 education, as well as the impacts of individual differences, resources, relationships, reputations (including prejudices), population shifts, social upheaval and countless other variables.
Half of FAMILIES TALK histories are available now, with more to come in 2016. While every effort was made to capture narrators’ words and syntax accurately, typos remain in this all-volunteer project. For a few stories, pseudonyms were requested.
Award-winning journalist Josefa Beyer is the creator and chief interviewer of FAMILIES TALK. She is grateful to all narrators; bilingual interviewer Nydia Auchter; and staffers at numerous community-serving organizations (including IPS and IndyPL) for knowledge, narrator introductions and interview space. Beyer is editing select school stories into a book. To learn more about the book and whose voices are still needed, visit josefabeyer.com.