Teachers around Indiana rallied Wednesday in support of increasing teacher pay beyond what Republicans in the Indiana General Assembly have proposed.
Governor Eric Holcomb has led the push for adding two percent to what the state puts into its K-12 education budget, but educators like West Lafayette High School science teacher Andi Hipsher say that’s not enough.
“We feel that the two percent will barely even cover raises and they’re taking money from us in other places, so in some corporations, ours included, we might end up having a net loss,” she says.
Democrats have complained too much money is going to charter and virtual schools, and they claim the governor’s proposal to free up dollars elsewhere isn’t likely to translate into larger paychecks for classroom employees.
State Rep. Chris Campbell (D-West Lafayette), who was elected to her first term in November largely on a platform of improving teacher pay, says she thinks even if schools can free up those dollars, needs such as building maintenance will come first.
“I think the schools don’t have the money to do that," Campbell says. "The schools can’t do that unless they get rid of teachers to do that. If they can’t fund the teachers that they have with the money that they’re getting, they’re actually going to have to cut teachers.”
Indiana State Teacher’s Association President Teresa Meredith addressed a crowd outside West Lafayette High School, noting an apparent disconnect between how the state’s business community and Indiana teachers are treated.
“Now if we were standing in front of you and saying the business community – the folks in the business community – were profiting the least amount in the entire county, do you think our legislators would stand for that? No, they wouldn’t," Meredith says. "They would be moving heaven and earth to make sure this was a business-friendly state and that this was certainly a business-profitable state.”
A recent study shows Indiana teachers have seen the smallest pay hikes in the country since 2002.
Still, teachers at the West Lafayette rally say they’re not ready yet to walk off the job as West Virginia teachers did in early 2018 and early 2019.