Teachers are sending a message to Indiana state legislators: Teaching Indiana's kids is not a volunteer position. It's a job and should be treated as such.

The whole reason anyone goes to work day after day is to earn a paycheck and benefits. Indiana teachers are no different but Indiana is ranked dead last when it comes to teacher pay increases.

This week, is the Indiana State Teachers' Association Red for Ed week. According to their website, "We wear Red For Ed to support funding for every student, support staff member and teacher — we need more school resources for classroom instruction and fair compensation."

The Courier & Press reported today that Indiana teachers participated in a "walk-in" to let legislators know that it was time to take a long, hard look at student-to-teacher ratios, providing classroom support, and funding both public schools and increasing teacher pay. They also reported that EVSC spokesman Jason Woebkenberg said the school district supports all EVSC educators who participated in the walk-in. Warrick County Schools and the Warrick County Teachers Association will be participating in their own "Red for Ed" Walk-In this Wednesday.

To put salaries into perspective, you have to look at the school district. At some of the larger districts in Indiana, teachers make an average of over $60,000 but smaller ones hover around the $37-$40,000 mark.  Kentucky teachers make an average of $54,000 up to $65,000.

Teachers across Indiana are also taking the opportunity to use this as a learning opportunity in their classrooms, because... teachers! You know what I mean?!

Alex Craig who teaches at Daniel Wertz talked candidly with her students about Red for Ed week and standing up for yourself in an unjust situation.

She posted this to Facebook:

Did you know that Indiana is DEAD LAST in raises to teacher salaries? Today we send a strong message to legislators to prioritize their funding for public schools and teacher pay.

She went on to tell me that teachers advocate for their students because they believe in their students.

"We want them to have what they need to be successful. They are our future! A lot people don’t realize how much teachers pay out of their own pocket for their classroom. I shouldn’t be worried about having kids of my own someday and how to support a family with a salary that I have from a four year degree. I know plenty of colleagues that work multiple jobs and it shouldn’t be that way. Starting the discussion is huge and informing people is even better. It’s hard to fix a problem when people don’t realize there is a problem. Thanks so much for your support!

She also held up pictures of her students holding signs. One read, "I teach my students to stand up for themselves. Here's my real life example."

Alex Craig
Alex Craig

So far, no walk-outs have been scheduled but these teachers are serious about earning a living wage for their time. And if Indiana wants to not only retain but attract the best talent, it's going to take a complete overhaul in funding public education. Who will take the worst hit? Our kids.

Want to help? Visit the Indiana State Teacher Association website to become an ally and learn about ways you can show support. You can contact your state legislators directly with your opinion on the matter. You can also check in with your local teachers about what specific needs they have for their classroom. Many things come out of their own pocket and parents can really help with expenses and there are always volunteer opportunities schools have!

Alex Craig
Alex Craig

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