3 months after Red For Ed, Indiana teachers hold rally on progress


File photo of Indiana Statehouse

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Those pushing for public education reform were back at the statehouse Monday. It’s been about three months since a sea of red took over the capitol to rally for teachers.

Though progress has been made this session, demands are similar.

“We’re still very much concerned for public schools as a whole,” said Cathy Fuentes-Rohwer, president of the Indiana Coalition for Public Education.

The coalition is calling on lawmakers to decouple teacher evaluations from test scores, increase teacher pay and make voucher and charter schools more transparent and accountable.

“And we would like to see just a pause on the expansion of voucher and charter schools to see what is happening with our public schools,” said Fuentes-Rohwer.

Last week, Governor Eric Holcomb signed into law a bill that would hold teachers and schools harmless from ILEARN test scores for two years but some people say that needs to happen every year.

“Tests are supposed to be for teachers to find out where kids are and to tailor their instructions accordingly,” said Fuentes-Rohwer. “These teachers don’t even get the results in time to be able to do anything to tailor to their classroom full of kids.”

Christina Smith is a parent of two kids in the Indianapolis Public Schools district.

“Public schools are not failing what’s failing, it’s the laws, the rules, the regulations, the testing, that’s what’s failing our students,” said Smith.

Instead of closing poor performing schools, public school student Emony Callaway would like to see the state spend more money on those struggling.

“Shutting down schools can hurt students,” said Callaway. “It can have a big impact from system to system.”

With about four weeks left in the session, the Indiana Coalition for Public Education wants to remind legislators and voters there is still time to act this year.

“We plan on grading our legislators after this session,” said Fuentes-Rohwer.

Supporters consider this rally a progress report.

“Not very many good grades in the Statehouse and we are hoping that after the next election and going into the next session we will see some better grades,” said Fuentes-Rohwer.

Some of the bills still being discussed at the Statehouse include decoupling teacher evaluations from test scores, getting rid of unnecessary teacher requirements and bills that would add more accountability and transparency for charter and voucher schools.

Bills to increase teacher pay have died. Those measures could still pass in the form of an amendment but that is not likely this year.

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