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Educators rally Monday at statehouse for lawmaker action

Educators from across the state are rallying at the statehouse to show support for Indiana public schools and students.

Posted: Feb 17, 2020 5:14 PM
Updated: Feb 17, 2020 5:25 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (WLFI) — While there weren’t thousands of educators here like there was in November, their message to lawmakers was similar. They don’t want promises by the governor they want action when it comes to teacher's pay.

The rally was hosted by Indiana Coalition for Public Education and several topics were discussed including teacher's pay and the "hold harmless" bill.

Public education supporters said that holding schools harmless for I-Learn test scores is a priority and they’d like to see it taken even further. Senate Bill 2, the "hold harmless" bill would not hold teachers or schools responsible for low I-learn test scores for two years. While the bill has been signed by the governor, they would like to see it continue.

“On the long term, we’d like to see testing decoupled from teacher evaluations forever. We’d like to see that schools don’t get punished for testing going forward. Tests are great for diagnostics but they weren’t meant to be a punishment,” said Marilyn Shank,
Vice President, Indiana Coalition for Public Education.

Low teacher pay is a concern of local Representatives as well. State Rep. Chris Campbell, who represents Indiana House District 26, said, “We are losing teachers to other states, we are losing teachers to other professions because they can’t afford to become teachers, pay back their loans and then teach.”

“Teacher turnover is really terrible and getting people to go to school to become a teacher is getting harder the pay is just not keeping up with the scope of the job,” said Marilyn Shank.

Public education advocates also want lawmakers to understand how important public education is to the state of Indiana.

“We’d just like to see public schools elevated and people understand that they are a quality product and that most kids are in those schools and are doing great," said Marilyn Shank.

The topic of charter schools was also discussed during the rally. Public education advocates say charter schools are not held to the same standard as public schools. Public education advocates are asking for a pause on approving new charter schools in the state and they want more transparency from them that they are making a positive difference for students, something public school advocates say is being done in other states. 

One of the main take away from this rally is that public school advocates want lawmakers to understand how valuable they are to the state of Indiana. The Indiana Coalition for Public Schools says 9 out of 10 children in the state attend public school and they want lawmakers to consider that number and make funding public schools a priority.

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