Thousands of educators to travel to statehouse, rallying for teacher pay increases

Thousands of educators to travel to statehouse, rallying for teacher pay increases
Teachers from around Indiana will fill the statehouse on Tuesday, wearing red for education as they demand change to the public education system. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

CHARLESTOWN, In. (WAVE) - Teachers from around Indiana will fill the statehouse on Tuesday, wearing red for education as they demand change to the public education system.

“We’re going to have to remind them that we need to be their top priority. Otherwise we’re going to lose more and more teachers, our schools are going to struggle,” Mark Felix, Greater Clark Education Association President said.

In the middle of a typical Monday morning, students and parents filter in and out of Charlestown Middle School. But Tuesday, the building will be quiet as educators here and around the state flock north to the Indiana Statehouse with demands for lawmakers.

"Better compensation,” Felix said. “If you want to keep these quality people in the education field, you’ve got to pay them.”

Educators are also calling for a hold harmless to schools following low ILEARN results in the exam’s first year. Also, an end to externships, an unfunded mandate demanding teachers spend time learning about workforce needs to keep their licenses up to date.

But with low salaries driving teachers out of state and out of the profession, better pay is a top priority for everyone.

"It costs a lot of money to be a teacher and in the end, is it a good investment? Right now, it's not," Felix said.

That call to action is picking up speed. Right now, just under one-third of Greater Clark County’s teachers are planning to take the day to join the Red for Ed Action Day. They’ll be joining thousands of other educators from around the state of Indiana in calling for change.

Unlike the sick-call method used by Kentucky teachers to gain traction from lawmakers, Indiana’s education rally was planned out weeks in advance, giving districts time to prepare and in turn, parents.

“Well look, we don’t want this to be a hardship on our communities, either. We want to keep the community on our side on this,” Felix said. “We want Hoosiers to know that we’re all in this together and we need better schools, we need better public education funding, bottom line.”

As the statehouse fills with educators in red, many hope this demand for change sways lawmakers enough to tip the scales, committing to improve the education infrastructure.

“We’re not expecting it all to change overnight but we are expecting our legislators to begin to pay attention, that real change needs come and it needs to come soon,” Felix said.

Copyright 2019 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.