Activism among students and teachers has skyrocketed in recent weeks with strikes and walkouts across the country, and so far Indiana educators don’t have plans to join a growing number of movements in several states.
But Indiana State Teachers Association President Teresa Meredith says the widespread demonstrations are getting people’s attention.
“Most of the calls though are about 'what are we going to do, and when are we going to do it,' and so when I ask them why they’re asking the question, the responses vary,” she says.
She says major concerns for Hoosier educators include test scores and their impact on teacher evaluations, and overall pay. Safety in the classroom, per-pupil funding, and better working conditions are also key issues.
National data shows Indiana teachers have seen some of the largest decreases in teacher pay over the past decade, after adjusting for inflation.
Overall, Meredith says many in the field feel disrespected after years of policy and school funding changes from lawmakers.
"I think they're just a boiling point, where we just can't take much more of the constant churn, and we see how much it's negatively impacted our students and we want to see something different and better," she says.
ISTA plans to keep a close eye on legislators as they craft the state’s – and school funding – budgets, next year. Union members will meet with the president of West Virginia’s largest teachers union this weekend, after lawmakers met several educator demands in response to a statewide teacher strike last month.