CLARK COUNTY – Higher pay.
Lower class sizes.
More school funding.
Teachers statewide are not backing down from their demands and they plan to be heard by legislators on the Red for Ed Action Day, Nov. 19, at the state capital. As more and more Greater Clark County Schools’ teachers vow to be in attendance, the district made the decision to close schools for the day.
“It is important to understand that the decision to support our teachers to attend this event, rather than being present with our students, is not an easy one,” GCCS Superintendent Mark Laughner said in a message to all parents. “We would much rather be at school teaching our students. However, inadequate funding that impacts class sizes, excessive high stakes standardized testing, teacher shortages and failed accountability models are negatively impacting our students and staff.”
The Indiana State Teachers Association organized the Nov. 19 event to gather support from teachers statewide to voice their concerns to lawmakers during Indiana’s General Assembly Organization Day.
“We have to influence our state legislature that we need more. Granted we have made some gains over the past year but it’s not enough,” said Mark Felix, president of the GCCS teachers’ association. “Indiana lags way in the back of the pack when it comes to teacher compensation, how much we’re putting into our infrastructure, our class sizes are getting too large. The bottom line is we have to start spending more money on our public schools and we have to stop taking money from our public schools in the form of charter schools and vouchers or we’re going to lose our teachers.”
When the ISTA asked teachers to take a personal day to show up at the capital, Felix thought about 20 Greater Clark teachers would participate, but hoped for 30. He said the last count he saw was 91 had signed up to go. He said so far, nearly 6,000 teachers statewide have signed up to attend.
“I think that’s what forced the closure, more and more teachers were using their personal days to go,” Felix said. “I’m so impressed with our teacher membership in Greater Clark. They’re stepping up in a big way. Some things are worth a little sacrifice.”
Felix said the teachers will be fighting for salary increases in addition to removing the 15-hour externship requirement, where teachers have to work in a community field to renew their teaching licenses. He said teachers are also asking lawmakers to hold schools and teachers harmless from the ILEARN results.
Greater Clark will make-up the lost school day with an e-learning day on Monday, Feb. 17, Laughner said in a statement.
“We apologize for any inconvenience this decision may cause our families, but we want to support our staff and the thousands of other Indiana educators, administrators, community members and parents who will be attending the Red for Ed Action Day,” Laughner wrote.
Meanwhile, other schools in Southern Indiana are planning to attend school – so far.
West Clark Community Schools’ Superintendent Clemen Perez-Lloyd said teachers are being asked to tell their building principal by Monday if they plan to be out on Nov. 19.
“It depends on how many teachers will be out and if we can find substitutes for that day,” Perez-Lloyd said.
She said she understands that parents will need to make alternative arrangements for their children, so she is planning on making an announcement later Monday on if school will need to be canceled.
Clarksville Community Schools will be in session on Nov. 19, according to a statement from Superintendent Tina Bennett.
“We are supportive of our teachers and those who have planned on attending the Red for Action Day and appreciate their transparency and communication with us so we can plan accordingly and minimize disruptions to the educational environment,” Bennett wrote.
A spokesperson for New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp. had no comment for this story, but added that school is scheduled to be in session.