Lebanon High School, like several other school across Indiana, will not be in session Tuesday, November 19th.. Hundreds of teachers will be coming together at the Statehouse and calling for change within the public education system. This rally is known as “Red for Ed Action Day.” Despite what many may think, it is not just a protest about better pay for teachers, but rather a wide range of issues.
The average salary for a teacher is about $60,000 a year, but most start at around $40,000. Many schools lack the funds necessary to support their teachers, meaning years go by without a pay raise. According to chalkbeat.com, $160 million were given to voucher schools, consequentially taking away almost half a million dollars from public schools across Indiana. Due to the poor pay, it sways people who would be interested in teaching toward another career, and those who do pursue teaching often have to work side jobs in order to support themselves.
Another issue is the way teachers have to renew their teaching licenses. Currently, most teachers must complete the professional growth plan every five years in order to renew it. They must work in a business for 15 hours without pay, and those hours are then counted toward the 90 hours of professional development that are required.
Teachers are also hoping to decrease the number of standardized tests students are made to take such as ILEARN. Along with that, many are hopeful that the testing will not reflect their school’s overall grade.
English teacher, Rachel Becker, strongly believes in this cause and is planning to attend.
“It is important to stand up for yourself. Change cannot be made until you show you are serious. Teachers don’t stand up for themselves in general, so when there’s an opportunity it is imperative that we take it,” said Becker.
Spanish teacher, Holli Decker, plans to attend as well.
“I think it is important. It is not just about teacher pay, but we haven’t had many pay raises. It keeps people from becoming teachers that would be good at the job which takes away from student’s education. It is also about the students and the testing they have to do,” said Decker.
Although Marc Adkins feels that not all of the issues directly affect him, he still plans to attend the rally.
“There is a problem with no pay increments for teachers. Its creating gaps in salaries and new teachers aren’t able to pay off their student debts. There is an issue with the ISTEP and ILEARN tests. There is also a problem with the added responsibilities that teachers have on a daily basis which takes away from student time,” said Adkins.
Kevin O’Rourke, LHS principal, will not be attending the rally, although he strongly supports and encourages the staff and students to attend.
“I am very supportive of this rally that’s going on. Unfortunately, I am not going because we have a professional development, but I will be there in spirit. I contact the legislature through email and phone because I strongly believe that they need to do a better job supporting students and staff. I think one thing that makes our country great is the opportunity to have a voice in our government. If students, parents, and teachers want to speak out then we should do it in an appropriate way,” said O’Rourke.
Show your support for public schools and teachers by using the hashtag #RedForEd.