Thousands of Indiana teachers convene for massive 'Red for Ed' rally

CATHERINE THORBECKE

Thousands of Indiana teachers convene for massive 'Red for Ed' rally originally appeared on abcnews.go.com

Nearly half of Indiana's public schools will be closed on Tuesday as thousands of teachers descend on the state's capital for a "Red for Ed" protest.

Over 100 school districts in the state have closed after the massive amount of teachers took the day off for the rally, according to the IndyStar. This equates to approximately 45% of public school students -- or more than half a million children -- getting the day off from school.

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Educators and allies participating in the Red for Ed Day Action Day, organized by the Indiana State Teachers Association (ISTA), are demanding state lawmakers to invest more in education.

PHOTO: Thousands of Indiana teachers wearing red, hold rally at the Statehouse in Indianapolis, Nov. 19, 2019, calling for further increasing teacher pay in the biggest such protest in the state amid a wave of educator activism across the country. (Michael Conroy/AP)
PHOTO: Educators and their supporters gather as teachers hold a one day walkout at the statehouse in Indianapolis, Nov. 19, 2019. (Bryan Woolston/Reuters)

Among those who will be marching is Randy Harrison, a government teacher at Anderson High School in Anderson, Indiana, who told Indianapolis ABC News affiliate WRTV that the rally is about "more than wages and benefits for teachers."

"It'd be nice to be able to afford textbooks and technology to supplement a whole classroom," he said. "Protect the arts, music, P.E., a library."

Clad in red, the marching teachers are taking to the streets to fight for increased pay, for students and teachers to be immune from "I-Learn" standardized test scores, and to repeal a license-renewal requirement that forces teachers to complete an "externship" in order to renew their teaching license.

PHOTO: Thousands of Indiana teachers wearing red surround the Statehouse in Indianapolis, Nov. 19, 2019, for a rally calling for further increasing teacher pay amid a wave of educator activism across the country. (Michael Conroy/AP)

"Lawmakers must demonstrate a commitment to addressing teacher pay by using the state’s budget surplus to begin increasing base salaries for teachers," ISTA leaders wrote in a public note of talking points ahead of the action day. "The lack of significant and sustainable investments in our schools over the past decade has placed Indiana behind neighboring states on funding levels and places us last in the nation in teacher salary growth."

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The statement added that Indiana has accumulated a surplus of more than $2 billion, adding that "legislature should use a portion of these funds to continue the work to make teacher pay competitive in the region."

"Low I-LEARN scores don’t reflect the hard work Hoosier kids and teachers are doing in our classrooms," the note added. "Test scores certainly shouldn’t determine how our communities are labeled by accountability grades."

Finally, the externship requirement that forces teachers to complete a series of programs on "career navigation or economic development" in order to renew their licenses "has placed an undue burden on teachers and is misplaced in its implementation," the teachers association note said.

"Red for Ed" or the red for education movement, has rallied teachers together in protests across the nation as they demand lawmakers to invest more in schools and education. "Red for Ed" teachers protests have taken place in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona and more since 2018.

PHOTO: Candy Handy dances on the steps of the Capitol Building as teachers hold a one day walkout at the statehouse in Indianapolis, Nov. 19, 2019. (Bryan Woolston/Reuters)

The national average teachers starting salary in Indiana is $35,943 and the average salary is $50,614, according to the National Education Association union, ranking the state 36th in the nation. Moreover, per student spending in the state is $8,496, ranking it 47th in the nation.