INDIANAPOLIS — Teachers from Kosciusko County school corporations made the trip Tuesday, Nov. 19, to the Indiana Statehouse where they joined over 15,000 teachers for the Red for Ed Action Day, organized by the Indiana State Teachers Association.
The rally was created to show support for teacher demands as lawmakers gathered to prepare for the 2020 legislative session. Teachers came with three main demands — to invest some of the budget surplus into teacher compensation; to hold students, teachers and communities harmless from ILEARN test results; and to repeal externship requirements.
Throughout the day’s events, it was noted several times that Indiana ranks 51st in the nation when it comes to teacher pay increases.
The day’s event’s included the creation of human tunnels surrounding the Statehouse entrances, a march through the streets of downtown Indianapolis and the sharing of stories by ISTA members inside the Statehouse.
Warsaw Community Education Association President Terry Sims estimated that between 100-200 staff members from the corporation attended the rally.
“We agree with the three issues that we’re rallying about,” said Sims. “That’s the externship, which is teachers not having to be licensed; funding is the major one — school funding; and holding harmless over the ILEARN test because we felt like they weren’t fair and they were invalid. We have those three things in common with everything that is here.”
Sims said that Warsaw teachers who weren’t able to attend were encouraged to write their legislators about those issues.
Warsaw Community Schools joined over 140 districts across the state and was not in session today. Whitko School Corporation was also closed for the day as they estimated one-third of their teaching staff planned to attend activities in Indianapolis.
Neither Tippecanoe Valley School Corporation or Wawasee School Corporation closed for the day. But both corporations were still represented.
Tippecanoe Valley Director of Marketing Lori Tilden-Geiger was unable to say exactly how many teachers were attending the event but said that all schools within the corporation were represented. Wawasee School Superintendent Dr. Tom Edington previously told InkFreeNews that around 20 teachers from the corporation were attending the event.
During the event, ISTA President Keith Gambill provided opening remarks.
“To the legislators we say, pencils down, your time is up,” said Gambill, amid chants from the attendees. “We have and will continue to work with everyone who is willing to do what is right for our kids, our students and our teachers … We are focused and driven and determined to make true and lasting change for our students … We must continue to rise up and tell our story. We must rise up and support public education. We must rise up and defend our children’s future.”
National Education Association Vice President Becky Pringle also spoke.
“Indiana, enough of taking advantage of educators’ love for their students and not paying them so they can take care of their own families … Enough of politicians deciding what’s best for our children and our schools and ignoring the people who know the names of our students.”
“Indiana, it is our turn. It is our turn to defend our students to get what they need when they need it,” continued Pringle. “Our time is now and our babies are depending on us.”