INDIANAPOLIS (WLFI) — Eighteen area school corporations are closed Tuesday as teachers rally for education funding. Thousands of teachers are expected to pack the statehouse for the statewide Red for Ed Action Day rally.
Why Teachers are Rallying:
The educators are hoping to get the attention of legislators. Tuesday, state lawmakers will gather for the 2020 session organization meetings.
Teacher unions say members are frustrated over seeing little or no pay raises in a decade. One by one, schools across the state have closed in the past few weeks, including the Lafayette and Tippecanoe School Corporations locally. The districts could not provide enough substitute teachers for those requesting a personal day.
Indiana ranks 36th in the country for average teacher pay.
Jennifer Smith-Margraf teaches Spanish at Oakland High School and she is also the vice president of the Indiana State Teacher's Association. She said the goal of Tuesday's rally is for state legislators to listen. She wants legislators to understand these issues are serious, and for them to take action in this upcoming legislative session.
"We don't walk out of our classrooms willy-nilly to go do something," said Smith-Margraf. "When we take a personal day, or take a day for professional development, that's something that we do understanding that we're leaving our students behind in our classroom. That should communicate to everybody, the number of people who are coming and doing that, how tremendously serious everyone is taking this."
Teachers are not just rallying for more funding, but also topics like ILearn Hold Harmless, repealing new externship requirements, and halt the post, which uses graduation status as a way to grade schools.
More than 16,000 people have registered for the rally, and about 145 of the state's nearly 300 school districts are closed. It's expected to start at 9 a.m.
The march around the statehouse (200 W. Washington Street) begins at 10:50 a.m. Tuesday on the south lawn. The marchers will enter the statehouse about noon to share stories inside the south atrium. The rally formally ends at 3 p.m.
Area School Districts Closed Tuesday:
Benton Community School Corporation
Carroll Consolidated School Corporation
Clinton Prairie School Corporation
Community Schools of Frankfort
Kokomo School Corporation
Lafayette School Corporation
Lewis Cass Schools
Logansport Community School Corporation
North Miami Community Schools
North Newton School Corporation
North White School Corporation
Peru Community Schools
Pioneer Regional School Corporation
Rensselaer Central School Corporation
South Newton School Corporation
Tippecanoe School Corporation
Tri-County School Corporation
Twin Lakes School Corporation
West Lafayette Schools Rally:
While thousands of students, staff and faculty will be out of the classroom Tuesday, one school corporation is keeping class in session. The West Lafayette Community School Corporation will be supporting the Red for Ed movement in a different way.
WLCSC Superintendent Rocky Killion said students are the top priority, so the corporation will keep schools open Tuesday. However, the school corporation is holding walk-ins Tuesday in front of every WLCSC school. This is a way to show support for the rally and for teachers without taking a day off of classes. The community is invited to attend.
In a statement released by the superintendent, Killion said parents and community members should wear red and join the other staff members at the schools for those walk ins. News 18 asked Killion what the consequences could be for students if teachers aren't heard at the statehouse:
"I predict that we will continue seeing teachers leave, fewer people going into the teaching profession, more testing, and ongoing competition with other states to provide our teachers with better compensation," said Killion. "Also I’m very concerned about the future of public education if nothing changes. However I would also predict that if legislators don’t start listening to teachers and those working in the education profession, I believe eventually the same thing will happen in Indiana that is occurring in other states. Voters will vote out legislators who are not listening and vote in people who support teachers and public education."
The rallies at West Lafayette Junior Senior High School and West Lafayette Intermediate School begin at 7:20 a.m. The rally at West Lafayette Elementary begins at 8 a.m.
Parts of the community will provide childcare for families affected by the school closures Tuesday. Faith East and Northend Community Centers will offer low-cost childcare for parents of Lafayette and Tippecanoe School Corporations.
The centers are accepting school-age children, K-5th Grades, beginning at 7 a.m. until 6 pm. The cost will be $10 for the day and includes lunch and access to the indoor play gyms at both centers. Click here to register students.
Lafayette Urban Ministry will also have childcare for the day.
News 18 will have live coverage from the statehouse all day.