On Saturday, March 9, teachers and education advocated from across the state will head to the Statehouse to rally for an increase in teacher salaries. The national movement ‘Red for Ed,’ in cooperation with the Indiana State Teacher’s Association (ISTA), will be organizing in Indianapolis to express their disapproval with low teacher wages, overcrowded classrooms and outdated classroom materials.
The issues that Indiana teachers are facing today are not new. According to USA Today, teacher salaries have fluctuated for over a decade with Indiana trailing behind—currently ranked 37th in the nation for lowest paid educators. The Red for Ed movement plans to challenge the stagnation that has occurred for the last 20 years and demand change. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, over the last two decades, Indiana teacher salaries have decreased by 15.7 percent.
This session, Indiana lawmakers have vowed to address the issue of teacher pay in our state. Both the Republican and Democratic caucus have prioritized increasing teacher salaries, yet the Supermajority has failed to draft legislation that would actually guarantee a pay raise for all teachers.
Senate Bill 399, proposed by State Senator Eddie Melton (D-Gary), was the only legislation that actually granted new dollars to teachers. His proposal would have authorized an annual grant to raise teacher pay by five percent over two years. The goal of the bill was to directly and immediately raise teacher salary, ultimately drawing educators back into the field and enticing young people to pursue the career. SB 399 failed to get a hearing by the Republican Chair of the Senate Education Committee. Senate Democrats are now turning to the budget approved by the House of Representatives for another route to raise teacher pay. Under the current proposal, specific financial allocations would save schools over $70 million a year. There is an opportunity for the Senate to amend the budget to ensure the surplus goes toward teacher pay.
Teachers planning to attend the Red for Ed protest, hope to encourage lawmakers to amend the budget or other teacher pay proposals that are still active to put money directly into teacher’s pockets. The rally will take place on Saturday, March 9 from 1-3 p.m. at the Statehouse.