Thousands of Teachers Will Travel to Indianapolis to Support Public Education

On November 19th the Indiana State Teachers Association will host a Red for Ed Action Day full of protests and advocacy.

Via The Indy Star

Via The Indy Star

On Tuesday, November 19th thousands of teachers from across the state will meet at the Indianapolis statehouse to protest in the hopes of affecting change for public education. Frustrated with years of low pay and dwindling classroom resources, these teachers will make their voices heard on issues important to them, ranging from extremely time consuming standardized tests to the funds increasingly being redirected from public education to vouchers, private, and charter schools. Among the attendees will be many teachers from the South Bend School Corporation, which lead the administration to close schools for the day. Organized by the Indiana State Teachers Association [ISTA], the activities for the day include several speeches by various ISTA members including the president, Keith Gambill, and a march outside of the statehouse. 

The ISTA cites three main reasons for the Red for Ed Action Day: increased teacher compensation, not holding teachers accountable for lower standardized testing scores, and the removal of the externship requirement for teachers. Together, these have been compounded into legislation the ISTA hopes will eventually be passed. 

This movement is continuously spreading: as of November 7th 7,000 teachers had registered to attend in Indianapolis and dozens of schools and corporations have closed school for the day. Reverberations from teacher strikes and protests in West Virginia, Colorado, and other states are influencing action in Indiana as teachers begin to speak out against the issues of compensation and testing. 

Mrs. Fisher, an English teacher at Adams and Teachers’ Union representative, will be attending the Action Day along with many of her coworkers. She cites the extensive standardized testing as a main reason for her attendance. “It’s doing a disservice to students,” she says, “having so many high stakes tests and having them over and over and over again. Most of my curriculum now focuses around testing and I just don’t think it’s right.” Fisher wishes the state would decrease the funds going into this standardized testing and also find a more accurate test to measure students’ abilities. 

“People are overall disgusted with the amount of money that is being funneled away from the public schools,” Fisher comments, a general sentiment of attendees, specifically focusing on the increasing prevalence of charter schools and the money that is being redirected to fund them instead of supporting public education. Earlier this year, a bill was proposed to the Indiana legislature that would further split taxpayer money between public and charter schools, essentially decreasing funding for public schools. However, this proposal was later removed, a small victory for public education.

Although Fisher sees the importance of attending the Action Day, she is also hesitant about the cancellation of school for the day, not wanting to hurt her students’ education. However, she sees this day as a way to help her students, hoping to eventually ebb the stress many of them face due to unfair testing standards, especially those on English as a Second Language [ESL] students. “I’m not a huge fan of not seeing my students for a whole day, we need to inconvenience the lawmakers so that they understand the pressures that are on us,” she comments. Fisher believes that the only way to accomplish the goals of the ISTA is to actively become involved in state politics, and this Action Day will be a chance for teachers to speak out and grab the attention of legislators. “I do not want students to think that we are just taking a day off. We are going down to Indianapolis because we don’t think they’re getting what they deserve and we want to fix that.”