Today, Nov 19, 2019, is Indiana General Assembly’s organization day – the day when legislative priorities are set for the 2020 session. And today is the #RedForEd rally at the Statehouse. Over 12,000 educators from across the state are gathering and making the voices heard to support Indiana public schools, educators and students. Over 130 Indiana school districts have cancelled class today, including Hamilton Southeastern Schools. Indiana has never seen an effort to fix our public schools this mighty before.
Every Hoosier who feels passionately about standing up for public school educators may have different reasons or experiences for doing so. Here are mine:
- Mom was a public middle school English teacher for decades. She loved grammar, poetry and 7th & 8th graders. Growing up, I wished my Mom wasn’t a teacher. I was frustrated every time we were delayed when she bumped into her former students at the mall or a restaurant. That happened. All. The. Time. And, she’d always stopped to chat, delighted to learn how a student’s future path in life had turned. Mom’s funeral a few years ago was packed with former students and teacher colleagues. Educators impact people’s lives.
- Dad was a public school principal and concluded his career as a superintendent at a Tony Bennett-challenged Indiana public school district. He was one of the hardest working principals ever – early mornings, late nights and weekends. When I was a kid, my dad and a fellow educator drove over 4 hours to IU Bloomington every Saturday morning to attend a class to earn their advanced administrator degrees. Educators work harder than any student or parent can ever see.
- I am the oldest of three siblings. It was expected that I would attend a Catholic school, like my parents did. However, my mom and dad made the decision when I was 5 to enroll me in public school. I asked my dad recently why they chose public school for my sisters and me. He said that he and mom were always confident in the quality of a public school education. And, they knew it was important for us to learn from teachers and fellow students who had different backgrounds and experiences to share. Public schools succeed when the community believes that they can.
- I admit, I was not an active school parent when my kids were growing up. But I am grateful for parents who could be. (Especially amazing marching band parents!) My son and daughter each had very different paths and experiences in public schools. To me, this demonstrates that our public schools do not serve just one type of student. Our educators should not be required to achieve the same outcome for each student. My kids are in their 20s now. But they will each tell you that an elementary teacher shaped the adult that they’ve become. Students value their teachers, so must we.
- My son and I attended his freshman orientation at IU Bloomington almost 7 years ago. We were a part of this day-long group of 150 other incoming freshmen and their grown-ups. Each student wore a nametag with their name, hometown and intended major. I made a point to check out each students’ tag. Not one read “Major: Education.” Not one. Education is not a desirable profession in Indiana.
- My community of Fishers is blessed and I am grateful. We are one of the most well-educated, employed and wealthy cities in the state. If you ask around, most Fishers residents will tell you that they chose to live here because of one thing: The Schools. Fishers was built on our public schools. It is up to us to stand up for our schools, educators and students – on behalf of our community and for other Indiana public school districts that have challenges, too.
Being #RedForEd is not just for today, November 19, 2019. For many of us, supporting public schools is unquestionable. It is hard to believe that there are so many obstacles in the way that hinder our teachers from doing their best for students. That’s why we must take action.
Chalkbeat: “We Asked Indiana Teachers Why They are Rallying. Here’s What They Said.” (Emma Kate Fittes)
The Priorities: Indiana State Teachers Association Red For Ed Action Day Talking Points