INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — The Red for Ed march on the Indiana State House attracted a huge crowd of teachers. About half of the state's schools closed out of support for teachers or necessity. They couldn't find enough substitute teachers to fill the classrooms.
Decatur Township Schools, however, were open. Teachers and students wore red in support of the protest. So did superintendent Dr. Matt Prusiecki.
"I am wearing this shirt for one reason." Prusiecki said. "It is to support public education and our teachers."
According to the superintendent, Decatur Township is seeing only half as many teachers apply for open jobs in addition to experienced teachers leaving for higher paying careers.
"There is a growing teacher shortage," he said. "The best thing is to put the best people in front of the classroom, so it's getting increasingly more difficult to be able to to that."
Tiffany Murray, a teacher for 21 years, wore a bright red shirt on Tuesday. She has endured the financial ups and downs of working in education.
"I'm surviving with the changes by doing what' best for my students," Murray said. "Trying to do what's best for them and keep their best interests in mind."
About 100 teachers, one fourth of the Decatur teaching staff attended the rally and requested personal days off well ahead of time.
The teachers union cooperated with administrators to find the substitutes and use other school employees in the classrooms to keep the schools open.
The cooperation of unions and administrators over money issues and political protests while not unheard of is certainly rare. The stakes are apparently that high.
"If we want to invest in our future we have to invest in public education." Prusiecki said.
Indiana saw a sea of red around and in the Statehouse and heard the shouted demands of teachers.
Were lawmakers listening? Will Tuesday's message resonate when General Assembly gets to work in January?
The Indiana State's Teachers Association claims 40,000 members and 2020 is an election year.
Decades ago the union was a political powerhouse. Could it be again?
There is a lot to watch and wait and see.