More than 100 school districts in the state, including the two largest districts — Indianapolis Public Schools and Fort Wayne Community Schools — canceled class to observe the “Red for Ed” Action Day rally at the Indiana Statehouse today.
Other schools, however, did not close, saying parents may have trouble finding childcare. Additionally, several schools in the Indianapolis Public Schools innovation network noted ideological differences held their educators back from the rally.
In the Indianapolis Public Schools innovation network, Amy Swann is the CEO of Matchbook Learning at Wendell Phillips School 63 on Indianapolis’ west side. She said the school will remain open Tuesday after the school held a series of staff meetings to learn if teachers wanted to be involved.
While her staff does not oppose the rally, Swann said most wish charter schools would be included more in school funding discussions.
"We're not sure that everybody marching is marching for everybody, and for all teachers," Swann said. "And it should be for all teachers. It should be for the teachers in traditional publics. It should also be for charters and other public schools."
Swann spoke to the divisive nature of the rally from experience. When she left her career at a traditional public school district, colleagues and friends stopped talking to her outright.
And some educators at her school agree innovation schools are left out of the conversation. Fourth grade teacher Sean Moore said innovation schools need more recognition in statewide discussions about public education. He also encouraged communities to "do their homework" and research how charter schools came to be, and what they are doing for students today in terms of academic achievement.
"It's more of a political thing, more than it is actually anything different," Moore said about how traditional public schools are compared with public charter schools. "But that's not quite understood by parents or communities."
Swann said Matchbook administrators were able to provide teachers with competitive raises this year comparable to salaries across IPS thanks to a $250-increase to per-student grants given to charter schools through the state budget. But Swann said Matchbook can't compete with a recent move by IPS to provide more than $31 million in raises through a local referendum unless schools like hers receive additional financial support.
"We will stand up for our teachers, and we want to pay them a lot more in a sustainable way," Swann said.
At least five innovation schools do plan to cancel class today in observance of the Red for Ed rally. They include Global Preparatory Academy at Riverside 44, Thomas Gregg Neighborhood School, Ignite Achievement Academy at Elder Diggs, SUPER School 19 and Herron High School.