INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Teachers are demanding change at the statehouse level and to make their voice heard, they plan to rally in a big day. In fact, more than 5,000 teachers have registered to Rally on Nov. 19.
We've heard about dozens of school districts that plan to cancel classes or use an e-learning day. Our media partners with the IndyStar report that 130 districts are participating.
Keith Gambill has been a public educator for 30 years. He’s also the president of the Indiana State Teachers Association.
— Indiana State Teachers Association (@ISTAmembers) October 3, 2019
“Their future matters to us,” Gambill said.
Thousands of teachers will rally at the Statehouse pushing for legislative changes to education. One of the top priorities is increasing teacher pay. Gambill says that’s to be competitive with other states.
“Shedding a spotlight on the issues that we believe need to be front and center this legislative session,” said Gambill, “What we know is that by growth, the salaries in Indiana are 51st in the country, within our region Indiana is the lowest paid for our educators. The average teacher salary should be at about $60,000. Right now, it’s at $52,000.”
Teachers are rallying for more than just pay. Recently, lawmakers put into motion a hold harmless for teachers, so negative ILEARN scores wouldn’t impact their evaluations.
“They need to go the next step in holding harmless schools and school districts with the letter grades, so that’s the next step that needs to happen,” Gambill added. “Now is the time to completely uncouple the use of student test scores with teacher evaluations.”
Teachers are also rallying against the externship. The updated professional requirement was put into place a year ago. It requires teachers when they renew their license to invest time outside the classroom.
“That’s using 15 of the 90 hours that are required for teachers when they renew their license would be invested in business, outside of actually working to better their practice inside the classroom,” said Gambill, “We consider that to be distractive in the use that we’re doing, we see no evidence that it will increase the economics of the state and does not advance students.”
Gambill says this is a personal fight for education.
“I have a colleague who’s fourth grade daughter is on her fourth teacher and we’re not even to the end of the first semester. This young lady gets one shot at being in fourth grade,” Gambill said. “This really matters.”
Again, Red for Ed Action Day is Nov. 19. That’s Organization Day at the Statehouse, which is the start of the 2020 legislative session.
Indianapolis Public Schools canceled classes on Nov. 19 in support of teachers planning to attend the Red for Ed Action Day, IPS announced Wednesday. Tuesday has been declared a professional development day. A previously scheduled professional development day for April 17, 2020, will now be a regular school day with student attendance, according to IPS.
Families can always check for updates, including information on free meal service and child care options, at www.myips.org.
Anderson Community Schools, Beech Grove, Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation, Richmond Community Schools, South Bend Community School Corporation, Taylor School Corporation are also calling off classes that day.
Wayne Township schools are also canceling classes. At their most recent meeting, the M.S.D. of Wayne Township Board Education approved the recommendation to cancel school. The district also saying in a statement, that parents and community members may also participate.
“The future of Indiana depends on it and they see the future of Indiana each and every day in their classroom,” said Gambill.
Noblesville schools is canceling school for the rally. Superintendent Beth Niedermeyer says while teachers are thankful for the salary increase they recently received, they wanted to join their colleagues and advocate for better funding.
"They have significant concerns, as do I, about the state of public education in Indiana. Specifically, reductions in long-term public education funding, standardized testing and the proliferation of required programs, reports, and certifications all contribute to our state’s teacher shortage, which negatively affects students," Niedermeyer said.
The school district will make up the student day by having an e-learning day on Jan. 6.