Well over ten thousand teachers united at the Indiana Statehouse Tuesday, demanding more resources be put into state public schools. Estimates say upwards of 16,000 of them gathered for the Red for Ed Action day.
The teachers, gathered by the Indiana State Teachers Associaion, strategically chose this day to rally and march because it’s the first day lawmakers are back for the 2020 legislative session.
A sea of red consumed the statehouse lawn as people sported red clothing for the cause in solidarity.
The crowd wants three main things from lawmakers: better pay for teachers, standardized tests to have no effect on pay, and new professional development requirements repealed.
Among The signs in the crowd could be read, “pay teachers what they deserve,” “keep great teachers in Indiana,” and “We expect respect.” A band helped rally the crowd as they chanted “enough is enough.” One chant aimed directly at lawmakers was “we will vote you out of here.”
“Teachers are finally coming together with a sense of purpose to make changes,” said Snider School biology teacher Mark Matson. “No longer are we going to stand on the sidelines and let legislative decisions be made in the dark that only negatively impact public education.”
He made his intentions clear if the lawmakers did not meet their demands.
“We vote them out,” he said.
Jennifer Matthias joined the rally in support of her children who all attend Fort Wayne Community Schools.
“The joy of learning has been sucked away,” she said. “The defunding of public education is hurting my child and your child and your children’s children. It’s time for the community to wake up and tell our legislators that we need more money. It’s not just about teacher pay. It’s about my child getting an education worthy of what our teachers can give them and we need to allow our teachers to be able to give them that education.”
MSD of Steuben County Schools social studies teacher Scott Hottell said he hasn’t received a pay raise in ten years. He said thoughts of striking are on his mind if the day’s demands aren’t met.
“The state of Indiana has made it illegal for us to strike however this is step one and there’s 16,000 people here today,” he said. “I don’t see why that wouldn’t be something that is on the table in the future.”
Indiana State Teachers Association president Keith Gambill and National Education Association Vice President Becky Pringle both spoke at the rally to the sea of thousands. Afterwards, the crowd marched the streets of downtown Indianapolis.
After the march, ISTA invited lawmakers to meet with them inside the statehouse to further discuss their demands.