Southwestern Consolidated will be open for classes Tuesday, November 19, during the Red for Ed Action Day taking place in Indianapolis. But the schools and its teachers intend to have an impact.
SWCCTA President Douglas Gaking provided this press release to GIANT fm News from the Southwestern Consolidated Classroom Teachers Association about their teachers involvement in the upcoming statewide Red For Ed Day of Action:
Southwestern Consolidated Schools will be in session on Tuesday, November 19, during the statewide Red For Ed Action Day. However, SWCS teachers are engaged in trying to create change in public education. Five of Southwestern’s teachers will attend the rally at the Statehouse on Tuesday, while the rest of the staff holds a walk-in before school in the morning.
The Red For Ed Action Day focuses on three policy priorities: investing the state budget surplus in education, holding schools and teachers harmless for current standardized tests, and repealing the state’s new professional development requirements, which demand that every teacher participate in an unpaid externship.
“The state of Indiana currently has a budget surplus of over $2 billion, plus a surplus from last year of $419 million, but we are 51st in the country in teacher pay growth,” says Douglass Gaking, president of the Southwestern Consolidated Classroom Teachers Association. “Meanwhile, the Indiana Department of Education currently lists a shortage of teachers in 13 content areas.”
“I never thought I would see the day that there was a shortage of music teachers,” says Gaking, who is Southwestern’s band and choir director, “but unfortunately we have a shortage because the state no longer pays competitive salaries for teachers. I have been involved in negotiating three teacher contracts. We are not trying to squeeze as much money as we can out of the taxpayers. We are literally trying to make sure we have a certified teacher in every classroom instead of a substitute teacher.”
Teacher pay in Indiana comes out of each school corporation’s Education Fund, which is funded by the state on a per-student basis. This limits school corporations’ ability to negotiate competitive salaries to hire and retain teachers. It also makes small schools like Southwestern subject to huge funding swings each year.
Southwestern’s teachers have invited the school board members, administrators, students, and parents to join them in front of the school at 7:30 AM on Tuesday morning to show their support for public education.
Superintendent Dr. Paula Maurer says they're ready for Tuesday.
She says she hopes that teachers can get their message out.