INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — Thousands of teachers and their supporters flooded the Indiana Statehouse grounds on Tuesday. The Indiana State Teachers Association estimates around 20,000 people took part.
They came from all over the state fighting for higher pay, reforms to the ILEARN standardized test and a repeal of new regulations to renew their teaching license.
More than 140 schools across Indiana closed Tuesday for the Red for Ed Action Day. That's 55 percent of state enrollment.
The south lawn of the statehouse was wall-to-wall people as ISTA President Ketih Gambill shared opening remarks often drowned out by cheering and applause.
Gambill told the thousands gathered, "on this glorious day you raise your voices to say enough is enough...the children of Indiana are counting on us and we will not let them down."
Becky Pringle, vice president of the National Educators Association, received thunderous applause after saying, "enough of standardized tests" and it's not OK the Hoosier State ranks 51st in teacher pay. That's not okay."
Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick spoke Tuesday morning in support of the teachers. She said Indiana is 50 out of 50 states in teacher pay increase since 2002.
McCormick also pointed to the state's $400 million budget surplus and the more than $2 billion in the state's reserves. She said any state funding to public schools should be split into three buckets: student learning, operations and school improvements. Currently the state leaves it up to the schools to decide how to divide funding.
"We're in teacher crisis, a teacher shortage and if want to turn indiana around or keep young people here, we need to improve conditions for teachers and public educators. We can't put kids first if we put teachers last," said Carolyn Porcuczek, a 13-year veteran teacher.
"The energy is amazing and it's just so good to see teachers rally for students and education," said teacher Clara Bepe. "We're asking for more funding so we're able to properly educate students with the correct material to do our jobs."
Student Steshia Gary said she came to the rally because "I wanted to show teachers I support them and let them know they deserve more than what they're receiving and to stand up for education."
"I hope someone is listenting. It's going to have to give sometime. It may not be tomorrow, it may not be quite yet, but we're going to keep going with this," said David Lamb, a teacher from Muncie.
Eyewitness News looked into the state's funding of schools. According to the Legislative Services Agency, the state will give a 2 percent increase in funding to public schools in 2020 and another 2 percent in 2021. During that same time, Charter schools will get a funding increase of more than 20 percent, Virtual schools will get 14 percent and voucher schools will get about 15 percent.
Governor Eric Holcomb had released a statement last week reading in part:
"I remain committed to finding long-term sustainable solutions to increase teacher compensation. That’s why I created the Next Level Teacher Compensation Commission and signed our recent two-year budget that included historic levels of increased funding for K-12."
Governor Holcomb was not in Indiana Tuesday and was instead at a governors conference in Florida.
Here is what was behind the effort organized by the Indiana State Teachers Association:
ISTA is calling on lawmakers to use some of the state's budget surplus to begin increasing base salary for teachers.
According to the National Education Association, for the 2017-2018 school year Indiana's average starting salary for a teacher was $35,943.
That ranks Indiana as the 37th lowest pay for teachers and lower than the surrounding states of Michigan, Illinois and Kentucky and comparable to Ohio.
Business.org reports teachers in Indiana make about 21 percent less than the average salary in the state.
However, a series of communities have passed referendums that include an increase pay for teachers on the local level. Indianapolis Public Schools' referendum allowed the district to give teachers the largest pay increase in its history.
Resolving issues with ILEARN results
When the results of the first round of ILEARN scores were released, there was a drop in test scores for the majority of Indiana schools.
The affect on a teacher's evaluation could affect a raise and their overall pay.
ISTA is concerned those standardized tests "don't reflect the hard work Hoosier kids and teachers are doing." It wants legislators not to hold teachers accountable until educators and students feel more comfortable with the testing.
Repeal PGP/Externship requirements
This requirement under HEA 1002 requires teachers to complete Professional Growth Plan requirements to renew their license. The requirement also includes a corporate externship.
ISTA feels the requirement places a burden on teachers and wants the language in HEA 1002 repealed.
School districts that closed
As of the afternoon of Nov. 18, the following school districts had reported to ISTA that they would be closing on Tuesday:
- Alexandria Community School Corporation
- Anderson Community Schools
- Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation
- Baugo Community Schools
- Beech Grove City Schools
- Benton Community School Corporation
- Blackford County Schools
- Blue River Valley Schools
- Carroll Consolidated School Corporation
- Center Grove Community School Corp
- Centerville-Abington Community Schools
- Clark-Pleasant Community School Corporation
- Clarksville Community School Corporation
- Clinton Central School Corporation
- Clinton Prairie School Corporation
- Cloverdale Community Schools
- Community Schools of Frankfort
- Concord Community Schools
- Crawford County Community School Corporation
- Crothersville Community Schools
- Culver Community School Corporation
- Daleville Community Schools
- Decatur County Community Schools
- East Allen County Schools
- East Gibson School Corporation
- Eastern Pulaski Community School Corporation
- Edinburgh Community School Corporation
- Elkhart Community School Corporation
- Elwood Community School Corporation
- Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation
- Fayette County School Corporation
- Fort Wayne Community Schools
- Franklin County Community School Corporation
- Franklin Township Com School Corporation
- Gary Community School Corporation
- Goshen Community Schools
- Greater Clark County Schools
- Greencastle Community Schools
- Greenfield-Central Community Schools
- Griffith Public Schools
- Hamilton Heights School Corporation
- Hamilton Southeastern Schools
- Huntington County Community School Corporation
- Indianapolis Public Schools
- Jac-Cen-Del Community School Corporation
- Jay School Corporation
- Jennings County School Corporation
- Kankakee Valley School Corporation
- Kokomo School Corporation
- Lafayette School Corporation
- Lake Ridge Schools
- Lanesville Community School Corporation
- LaPorte Community School Corporation
- Lebanon Community School Corporation
- Lewis Cass Schools
- Liberty-Perry Community School Corporation
- Logansport Community School Corporation
- Maconaquah School Corporation
- Madison Consolidated Schools
- Madison-Grant United School Corporation
- Marion Community Schools
- Michigan City Area Schools
- Milan Community Schools
- Mill Creek Community School Corporation
- Mississinewa Community School Corporation
- Monroe-Gregg School District
- MSD Boone Township (Hebron)
- MSD Lawrence Township
- MSD of New Durham Township (Westville)
- MSD Pike Township
- MSD Warren Township
- MSD Washington Township
- MSD Wayne Township
- Mt Vernon Community School Corporation
- Nettle Creek School Corporation
- New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated Schools
- New Castle Community School Corporation
- New Prairie United School Corporation
- Noblesville Schools
- North Adams Community Schools
- North Central Parke Community School Corporation
- North Daviess Community Schools
- North Gibson School Corporation
- North Harrison Community School Corporation
- North Judson-San Pierre School Corporation
- North Miami Community Schools
- North Newton School Corporation
- North White School Corporation
- Oak Hill United School Corporation
- Oregon-Davis School Corporation
- Penn-Harris-Madison School Corporation
- Peru Community Schools
- Pike County School Corporation
- Pioneer Regional School Corporation
- Plymouth Community School Corporation
- Portage Township Schools
- Randolph Central School Corporation
- Randolph Eastern School Corporation
- Rensselaer Central School Corporation
- Richland-Bean Blossom C S C
- Richmond Community Schools
- River Forest Community School Corporation
- Rush County Schools
- Salem Community Schools
- School City of East Chicago
- School City of Hammond
- School City of Mishawaka
- School City of Whiting
- School Town of Highland
- SENSE Charter School
- Shelbyville Central Schools
- Shenandoah School Corporation
- Sheridan Community Schools
- South Bend Community School Corporation
- South Central Community School Corporation
- South Dearborn Community School Corporation
- South Gibson School Corporation
- South Harrison Community Schools
- South Henry School Corporation
- South Newton School Corporation
- South Putnam Community Schools
- South Vermillion Community School Corporation
- Southern Hancock County Community School Corporation
- Southwest Parke Community School Corporation
- Southwestern-Jefferson County Consolidated Schools
- Taylor Community School Corporation
- Tippecanoe School Corporation
- Tipton Community School Corporation
- Tri-Central Community Schools
- Tri-County School Corporation
- Tri-Creek School Corporation
- Tri-Township Consolidated School Corporation
- Twin Lakes School Corporation
- Union County College Corner School District
- Union-North United School Corporation
- Vigo County School Corporation
- Warrick County School Corporation
- Warsaw Community Schools
- Washington Community Schools
- West Central School Corporation
- West Clark Community Schools
- West Noble School Corporation
- Western School Corporation
- Western Wayne Schools
- Whitko Community School Corporation
- Yorktown Community Schools