Indiana teachers lobby for education funding

Published: .
Updated: .

Indiana teachers are kicking off their lobbying session at the Statehouse, and they have high hopes that they can make some changes to improve your child's education.

Teachers from across the state will come to Indianapolis this week to meet legislators and talk about their concerns. They call it their legislative kick-off.

The Indiana State Teacher's Association has three main goals for this session. They will push for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten programs. They also will lobby to let reforms from past years set in to give them a chance to work before lawmakers reverse them.

Most importantly, the president of the teachers association Nate Schnellenberger says, more money must be put into the education system.

"The last two or three years, we've had a $300,000 cut in funding in public education. We'd like to see that restored and additional funding on top of that. We know that our schools are right now across the state are cut to the bone. There is nowhere for them to cut anymore. They've cut all costs that they can. They've reduced staff. They've cut the number of offerings which has increased class sizes. I don't think parents want their kids in classes that are 30, 40, 50 in number," he said.

ISTA would like to see funding restored and more classes being offered to reduce the number of students in each class, Schellenberger said.

Schnellenberger also says teachers are hopeful that under the new leadership of Superintendent Glenda Ritz more will get done to improve the education system.

Ritz's upset over her predecessor Tony Bennett was a grass roots victory for teachers, who saw Bennett's focus on testing and voucher programs as detrimental. It's the first time a Democrat has held the seat since 1972.

"We believe she'll bring some common sense to that position and be able to work with the legislators to maybe tweak some of the reforms that have been passed that are not working as well as the legislators had intended them to," Schellenberger said.

Teachers hope that legislators will listen - and respond to what is and isn't working.

"We would like for the legislators to let the reforms that they've passed the last couple of sessions sink in and find out what is working, and certainly keep that, and also find out what is not working and try to tweak those or eliminate those parts of the programs that just passed that simply aren't working - that parents and students and teachers and administrators say this isn't working to listen to them and to make appropriate adjustments," Schellenberger added.

See Nate Schnellenberger's comments on Indiana's school voucher program.