GlenEva Dunham

GlenEva Dunham

On Tuesday, Nov. 19, the State Legislative Organizing Day, approximately 15,000 Educators and Community Partners from throughout the State of Indiana convened on the inside and outside of the State Capital in Indianapolis. American Federation of Teachers Indiana and Indiana State Teachers Association spearheaded the day. American Federation of Teachers Indiana of which I serve as president held a press conference for the Media. Our action for the day was to engage state legislators by getting them to sign pledge cards to commit to visiting a public school in their district to engage the students and the staff. We also distributed flyers concerning our #Red4Ed/Fund Our Future Campaign.

Supporters of public education from the General Assembly, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, President of Indiana AFL-CIO and AFT National President Randi Weingarten addressed the crowd. Chants and cheers were heard from the sea of Red Clad attendees. AFT/Indiana Local Leaders and our members were presented and accounted for. They came by the busloads. We were all present to put the state lawmakers on notice. Teachers want what children need. Teachers' working conditions are students' learning conditions.

The state of Indiana has neglected to fund public schools adequately. Our schools lack the basic resources to properly educate our students. They deserve better. We were at the Statehouse fighting and standing for our children and our communities.

Teachers want less standardized testing, it is excessive. We are concerned that legislators force some school districts to obsess about testing instead of teaching and learning.

Teachers want respectable, fair wages to attract the best and the brightest teachers to sustain the future of our profession. We have been at the bottom for much too long. Indiana ranks 51st in the country in teacher salary increases.

We are asking legislators to repeal the teacher externship mandate. Teachers understand the need for professional growth training. Teachers are smart enough to get that ongoing professional development in areas that will positively affect their teaching.

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The day was awesome. #Red4Ed/Fund Our Future. Educators left the state capitol feeling empowered and fearless about what is to come.

Teachers want what kids need. We intend to ensure our voices are heard in policy and decisions that impact our classrooms, our students and our lives directly.

We are hoping to see lawmakers moving to separate teacher assessments from test scores. We want a hold-harmless provision to pass quickly. We want the budget to be opened, to increase education funding. We want the 15 hour externship requirement repealed.

Teachers will continue the momentum. We will do whatever it takes. The ball is in the legislators' court.

We will be watching.

GlenEva Dunham, a teacher in Gary, serves as president of AFT Indiana, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers representing about 5000 teachers in Indiana. The opinions are the writer's.