(PHOTOS Chris Davis/Emmis/Getty Images)
Over 15,000 people dressed in red descended upon the Indiana Statehouse Tuesday morning for “Red for Ed” Action Day to demand significant changes in education.
One of the primary issues brought forth by the Red for Ed movement is low pay for teachers, but protestors would also like for lawmakers to resolve issues with ILEARN and how it impacts teacher evaluations, as well as repeal the externship requirements for teachers renewing their license.
Indiana State Teachers Association President Keith Gambill released the following statement after Tuesday’s rally:
“ISTA’s Red For Ed Action Day will go down in history as a significant turning point for public education in Indiana. Twenty-thousand educators, parents and community members rallied for investing the budget surplus in teacher compensation, holding students, teachers and communities harmless from ILEARN and repealing the unnecessary PGP/externship requirements for teachers.”
WIBC host Tony Katz noted, however, that because Red for Ed proponents chose to align themselves with other labor groups such as the AFL-CIO, Tuesday’s event failed to keep the focus of the protest on improvements in education.
“It’s a political rally. So why didn’t you just tell the kids, ‘Hey, we’re going to have a political rally. We’re not going to be here to teach you. Have a nice day.’ You told them this was about bettering the opportunities for teachers so they could be better educators and do more for the students. You’re rallying with the AFL-CIO?”
The Indianapolis Star has a photo from the event that shows a woman holding a sign that says, ’15 years, masters degree, salary: $47,600. Um, you chose to be a teacher and you knew what it paid. This is not an argument. You made the decision. You knew the deal going in and you’re the one who got the masters degree. Nobody told you to do it.”
Despite criticism of the event, Katz says he’s coming around on teacher pay.
“I’m all in; I’ve done my 180. I believe we should pay Indiana teachers the most in the country. I think it’s time for the complete and total rethink on education in every single way. I, Tony Katz, will show up anywhere, anytime to support Indiana teachers getting paid the most money in the nation – number one out of 50 states. However, you have to fire the bad teachers and you have to tell the parents what they get.
Also, let me remind people that the week of January 26 – February 1st is National School Choice Week because I believe that parents should have the right to send their child anywhere they choose. I want to pay teachers the very most AND I want parents to have all the choices.
I’m an actual believer in education reform and I want to do it all. You win, teachers. You want to show up 15,000 strong and demand reform? Hot damn, I’m down! Let’s do all of it! I don’t want to think small; I want to think so big you get a headache. Because I believe that if you followed people like Randi Weingarten and teachers got paid $100K per year? If that passed on a Tuesday, on Wednesday, people would be grumbling, ‘Why is it not $105K per year?”
Click the link below to hear Tony’s full commentary.