INDIANAPOLIS — “Enough is enough!” was the main slogan as over 12,000 teachers and their supporters rallied around the state Capitol Building here Nov. 19, demanding higher pay, smaller classes and better working conditions. Indiana comes in dead last of the 50 states for teachers’ pay increases over the last 15 years.
Over 145 school districts cancelled classes because of the large number of teachers who joined the action.
The protest was backed by both the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers.
Members of the Socialist Workers Party who joined the rally met Diana Sale, an art teacher who has been teaching for 30 years. She explained that she has to have a second job to meet all her expenses.
“And the state legislature recently passed a rule that teachers who want to renew their license —which they have to do every five years — now have to complete an ‘externship’ of 15 hours of unpaid work with a local business, on top of their teaching responsibilities,” she said. “Our union has to take this on.”
“I spent about $400 at the beginning of the year trying to get my classroom together,” Brenda Johnson, a fifth-grade teacher at the Gary Community School Corp., told the Times of Northwest Indiana at the rally. Her school system was in such a crisis it was taken over by the state in 2017.
“I shouldn’t have to pay for paper, pencils, posters, crayons, markers,” she said. “The pay is not good enough.”
Most protesters were dressed in red, as teachers and other school workers wore in a series of protests last year in West Virginia, Kentucky, Arizona, North Carolina and other states. They called their protest Red for Ed Action Day.
“As I look out into this sea of red, I see hope and I see our future,” AFT-Indiana President GlenEva Dunham told the rally. “This is just a beginning.”