More than 60 school districts across the state are cancelling classes later this month as they prepare for thousands of teachers to flock to the Statehouse ahead of the upcoming legislative session.
It’s not the first major rally for teachers at the Statehouse this year; teachers’ efforts to draw more attention to school funding and the needs of classrooms have been ongoing with a statehouse rally in March and other “Red for Ed” events in local communities.
This month, as lawmakers gear up for the legislative session starting in January, the Indiana State Teachers Association is focused on three key issues: repealing new career awareness licensing rules for educators; avoiding penalties for schools and teachers because of low ILEARN scores; and using some state surplus money to better fund schools.
ISTA President Keith Gambill says pay is a huge factor for keeping and retaining teachers and is still a crucial focus, but it’s important to acknowledge other major concerns.
“That’s part of what we’re doing but it goes beyond that as well,” he says.
Teachers have pressed for things like fewer unfunded state requirements, more respect and career opportunities for people in their field, and less testing tied to teacher performance and pay.
Kindergarten teacher Amanda Poynter says it all boils down to addressing poverty. She just wants lawmakers to cut teachers a break — and poorer schools a bigger check.
“And right now they’re being ham-stringed by pages of laws and trying to get – just squeeze every penny out of anywhere they can find it,” she says.
According to ISTA more than 8,000 participants had registered for the rally as of Friday afternoon.