Teachers gather at Indiana Statehouse to demand more funding, better pay

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind- As state lawmakers begin work on drafting a new budget, teachers want an increase in education spending and pay.

From California to Colorado, teachers across the country have been going on strike to demand better pay. Teachers from Indiana don't want to do the same, but some say they may have to.

"I think if things don't change, it’ll happen eventually,” said Trevor Brown, a high school teacher for Rochester Community Schools.

He and other teachers from across Indiana made the trip to Indianapolis, visiting the state house while holding up signs and wearing red. They tried to speak with lawmakers, making their prescience and calls for more funding known.

“I feel like we have the legislatures ear... but i’m not sure how much we’re seeing the results of that,” said Jill Weaver, a music teacher in Rochester Community Schools.

Since 2000, data from the National Center for Education Statistics shows the average pay for Indiana teachers has fallen 15 percent when considering inflation. The states current average salary is well below other Midwestern states.

“We don't think we should make $100,000," Brown said. "We just need to make enough where we can be comfortable and provide for our children.”

Lawmakers are considering several options to increase teacher pay, but already teachers say they’re losing quality applicants.

“I’ve had former students who told me they were going to go in to the profession, and they just didn't see how they could afford to do so, which is sad,” said Kokomo teacher Becky Stoltzfus.

As talks begin this week over the state’s next budget, Indiana teachers say they don’t want to see a walkout or a strike, but they’ll do what they have to do.

"It’s not in our hands, it’s in the legislature's hands," Weaver said. "If we’re forced, I think teachers are smart enough and professional enough to do the right thing for the education of our students.”

Teachers are expected to be at the statehouse again for the "Red for Ed" rally on Saturday, March 9.

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