“We are going down to save public education today,” said Terry Grembowicz, a teacher at Hay Primary Center.
The teachers were expected to join hundreds of others who planned a rally in support of public education – with an emphasis on “public.”
The Indiana State Teacher's Union and the Indiana Federation of Teachers object to several proposed education reforms under consideration this year in the General Assembly - including using student test scores to evaluate and compensate teachers, vouchers that would direct taxpayer money to private schools, and a proposal to put restrictions on collective bargaining.
“I've been on a bargaining team and I have found that when you have both sides having equal power, good things happen for kids,” said Shirley Golichowski. “Often the teachers are the ones saying ‘we need smaller class sizes, that’s what’s good for kids,’ or ‘the kids need extra help – we need aides in the classroom.’”
“I do not believe the reforms that are being requested right now are an answer,” said Linda Lucy, a teacher at Darden Primary Center. “I believe they’re going to tear away the basic fabric of public education.”
Lucy said she’s especially worried about losing public funding when students would leave to attend private schools and take taxpayer money with them.
“Resources are going to be severely limited and cut to public schools,” she said.
“There are lots of wonderful people who have gotten great education in public schools and there's no proof that charter schools are the golden answer,” said Golichowski.
Grembowicz said legislators should focus on fully funding full-day kindergarten and some sort of preschool programs.
Daniels has said students will benefit from more school choice and he mentioned the need to change the way teachers are evaluated during his State of the State address in January.
“Today’s teachers make more money not because their students learned more, but just by living longer and putting another certificate on the wall,” Daniels said. “Their jobs are protected not by any record of great teaching but simply by seniority. We have seen “teachers of the year” laid off, just because they weren’t old enough. This must change.”
The teacher rally was scheduled to begin Tuesday evening. This story will be updated by a South Bend Tribune reporter who’s covering the rally from Indianapolis.