It’s been almost two years since I left the classroom as a public school teacher. Turning off the lights, with my arms filled with boxes of student drawings and my favorite classroom books and shutting the door behind me broke every piece of my heart. I was devastated to leave behind my amazing team and my heart hurt knowing I wouldn’t see the faces of those sweet babies I had loved for so many years. Teaching was my passion and the profession I had assumed I would retire from one day. But I was tired and it felt as if the passion had been sucked out of me year after year. I emotionally, physically and mentally could not take it anymore. And sadly, I am not alone.
Enough is Enough.
On November 19th, thousands of Indiana educators and supporters are headed to the Statehouse. Your school district may have even called for an e-learning day. But before you get angry about this (I get it – childcare does not come easy), I’m sharing with you four reasons why teachers are marching and how these decisions will impact your children too.
Increase Teacher Salaries
Trust us. Teachers don’t get into this profession because they hope to become millionaires one day. But a salary that is livable should be expected. You would be shocked at the number of teachers who are working second (some even third) jobs just to make ends meet. The starting salaries for some first year teachers are as low as $30,000. Right now Indiana has the lowest teacher average in the midwest, so raising the average teacher salary to at least $60,000 is reasonable. And please don’t come at us with “But you get your summers off…” because let me be clear, teachers only get paid for the days they work. Which means – WE ARE NOT PAID FOR OUR SUMMERS.
Protect Students, Teachers and Schools from ILEARN Scores
Right now, educators are requesting lawmakers to pass a hold-harmless provision that would protect students, teachers and schools from any negative consequences that are related to the low ILEARN scores in 2019. Let me explain this just a little bit more. Statewide there was a HUGE drop in test scores with the new assessment (which replaced ISTEP last year.) This is concerning on many levels – and you should be concerned too, but not because your children’s teachers didn’t “do their job.” (Don’t ever say that please.) These test scores factor into a lot. First of all, these scores are part of the evaluation of a teacher and help determine how much of a raise teachers get the following year based on if they are “effective” or “highly effective.” And look, I’m all about ensuring the quality of teaching. But these test scores aren’t accurate measures as to what is happening in the classroom.
The test scores will also determine the “quality” of your school which will then tell the state how much funding each school should get. Scores also impact the deciding factors as if a state takeover of a school is necessary as well. Keep in mind, the reason they want a hold-harmless provision is because THIS WAS A BRAND NEW TEST.
Repeal the 15 Hour Externship Requirement for Teacher Licenses
If you aren’t an educator, you most likely don’t understand why this is important. The majority of teachers are required to renew their license every five years, as any professional should. However, in order to renew your license teachers must partake in 90 hours of professional development and/or college courses. Lawmakers have now added another 15 hour externship on top of the 90 required hours for a license renewal, which is a redundant requirement and just adding another plate to the stack that teachers are already spinning. What is the reasoning behind having to intern in another field anyway? You wouldn’t have a doctor intern with a police officer or an accountant intern at a pharmacy. It makes zero sense.
Put a Stop to the “Post Graduation Status” Grading System
Recently lawmakers have stated that they want to change Indiana’s high school grading system to account for what students do after graduating. Therefore the quality rankings of these schools would be dependent upon the percentage of students who are enlisted in the military, employed or enrolled in college or junior college. But realistically how can these numbers be accurately measured? Also, we can’t hold these schools accountable for situations that happen after high school. It’s not an accurate nor fair measure of a student’s success.
How You Can Support Indiana Educators
Support is the keyword here – teachers need YOUR support, Indianapolis Moms! And there are a few things you can do!
Wear Red on Tuesday, November 19th
This is the easiest way to show your support. Get out and shout it loud from the rooftops that you are behind the educators in our state. Spread awareness and use the hashtags #RedforEd and #FundOurFuture on social media. And don’t be afraid to show up at the Statehouse either! The more support, the better!
Read up on the current policies and future changes lawmakers want to put into place. Talk to your child’s teachers and chat with fellow educators to help you understand how these laws and policies will affect your family and make your own decisions.
Use your voice and make it matter. I always tell people to reconsider voting straight party. Get to the polls and vote for the people who will most align with you educational values.
Make the Call
Pick up the phone and call your legislators to let them know you stand with teachers. You can send them an email too! Making any noise will help the cause even more!
Start Spreading the News
Share the information! Share this post and keep it moving. Help educate your family and friends and let them understand the impact of this important day and why we will wear #RedforEd on the 19th!
As I’ve said before, teachers are tired. And these are only a few drops in the bucket as to what teachers have to endure each day and there are so many more reasons why these educators are taking a stand. But if we can use our voices too, maybe we can get the point across louder that we want to make a different in the future of education in Indiana.