WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI)- According to a survey from the Indiana State Teachers Association, 95 percent of educators have seen an increase in workloads due to COVID-19.
"Putting in 12 hour days is now the norm. It's just something we have come to expect and we are doing everything we can to make sure the students get the best education that they can," said Andi Hipsher the co-president of the West Lafayette Education Association.
This time last year, thousands of educators gathered on the general assembly's organizational day to encourage lawmakers to increase teachers’ pay. Due to COVID-19, no such rally was planned.
"Keeping teachers in Indiana means we are going to have to have salaries that are comparable to other states," said Hipsher.
On Tuesday West Lafayette Community School Corporation educators held a Red for Ed parade, to encourage lawmakers not to cut any funding to public schools.
"Funding is vitally important, investing in public education is investing in our students and our students are our future,’” said Mardell Forbes WLEA Co-president. “Do not slash anymore from the public education budget."
Not cutting funding to public education isn’t the only priority for Indiana educators. Working environments that teachers endure is also something teachers would like lawmakers to address. Especially since the teacher shortage isn’t getting any better.
"We still have teachers with packed classrooms of 30 or 40 students,” added Forbes. “We stand in solidarity with our educators throughout the state. We want them to know that it is a stressful environment especially teaching during a pandemic.”
The Indiana Teachers Association also reports that 86 percent of Hoosier teachers report their stress levels being at an all-time high compared to previous years. Which some local educators echo.
"This is my 12th year teaching and I can't think of a time where I have been more stressed out and felt like I had so much responsibility on my shoulders," said Hipsher.
These local educators hope they are sending a message to lawmakers about how important public education is to communities across the state.
"Red for Ed is not Dead it is very much alive," said Forbes.
The first official day of the legislative session is Monday, January 6th.