On Tuesday, Hoosier educators and allies from across the state traveled to the Statehouse for a #RedForEd rally. The Indiana Senate Democrats had the opportunity to meet with teachers, hear their stories and learn why they were at the rally. Check out the video below to hear why Hoosier teachers are making their voices heard!
Reports say that an estimated 15,000 people were registered for the event, making it one of the biggest Statehouse rallies in recent history. While pinning down the exact number of rally attendees is difficult, one thing is clear: Hoosier teachers are fed up and ready for change. Indiana educators are dealing with a plethora of challenges and they came to the Statehouse with three specific asks of Indiana lawmakers:
- Invest budget surplus in teacher compensation
- Hold students, teachers and communities harmless from I-LEARN
- Repeal PGP/externship requirements
These demands are not only reasonable but necessary. Using the $2.3 billion surplus to fund teacher compensation is an obvious solution to Indiana’s low teacher pay problem – a problem that has contributed to our state’s teacher shortage. It’s unfair for Hoosier teachers to be struggling to make ends meet with the slowest salary growth in the nation since 2002, while our state reserves host billions of dollars. Senator Melton filed Senate Bill 399 last session to increase teacher salaries by 5 percent, a plan that was fully funded with no new tax dollars, and it failed to get a hearing by the Republican Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Holding teachers, students and communities harmless from I-LEARN scores is a proposal that most lawmakers, including your Senate Democrats, and community advocates support. Test scores are used to determine school funding and teacher salaries/bonuses, and it’s important that communities are not negatively impacted by the results of this test which was implemented for the first time this year. This is not a long-term solution to the accountability issue, but rather a short time solution to absolve schools of a potential loss in funding.
Repealing the 15-hour externship requirement for teachers to renew their licenses, which was added last year, is also a shared priority by the Senate Democrats. Hoosier teachers are already overburdened, overworked and underpaid. Requiring teachers to complete an externship, potentially unrelated and inapplicable to their classrooms is unnecessary. State Senator JD Ford will introduce legislation in the 2020 session to return the externship as an optional choice for teachers to fulfill their PGP hours – a proposal supported by all Senate Democrats.