Red for Ed

Teachers rally outside of the Indiana Statehouse to fight for improvements to the current education system


Emma Herwehe

SHS teachers, along with educators from across the state, march around the Statehouse. The march was the second half of the rally, following live music and speeches.

Almost 15,000 educators, administrators and students make up the sea of red outside of the Indiana Statehouse on Tuesday, Nov. 19. Thousands of signs wave in the air, with constant chanting and music heard from miles away.  A rally called “Red for Ed,” as most of the marchers wore red clothing to protest issues within the Indiana education system, was the first step in bringing awareness to the realities of the professional life of a teacher and the current education system.

“This system is unsustainable and is hurting our children,” Indiana State Teachers Association president Keith Gambill said to the large crowd during his speech. “We can no longer continue down this path. To the legislators in the Statehouse today, we say, ‘Pencils down, your time is up.’”

The three main issues being recognized were teacher salary, requirements towards renewing teacher licenses, including externships and new forms of training, and the way standardized testing scores are evaluated. 

“We have our lesson plan, and it’s simple and straightforward,” Gambill said. “End the ill-conceived externship… It is time to respect educators’ time and professional knowledge.”

The rally was organized by the ISTA. It was scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m., although the lawn outside of the Statehouse was already packed earlier that morning. There was live music, speeches and a march. Later in the day, around 5,000 people were allowed into the Statehouse to talk to legislators about making changes to the issues.

Emma Herwehe
Teachers rally in front of the Statehouse during Red for Ed. After the march, smaller groups of people were allowed into the Statehouse to talk to legislators.

“We have and we will continue to work with anyone who’s willing to do what is right for our kids, for our schools and our future,” Gambill said. “…More than 1 million public school students are depending on us.”

Around Indiana, school closures were common that day. Although, at SHS, school was still in session. There were around 40 teachers from SHS at the rally, so they took a personal day while substitutes took over their class. No major changes were in place for students, except study hall took place in the auditorium.

SHS teachers that were not in attendance at the rally had certain reasons behind their decision. Social studies teacher Daniel Jones says he is thankful for his position and his students, and his job means everything to him. He understands the reasons behind the rally, and is appreciative of the teachers that took a day off to fight for their rights. However, missing a day of instruction was not ideal for him. He believes being there for the students should take top priority.

“One of the reasons I didn’t go was because we have a test (coming up),” Jones said. “…it was a really important day of instruction. I didn’t want to miss a day of instruction, quite honestly. I thought what we had to discuss that day was fascinating stuff, really cool. I just didn’t want to miss that day.”

Other teachers saw no reason not to be present at the rally. English teacher Dawn Fowerbaugh believes that teachers within Perry Township are treated very well. However, she knows people in teaching positions outside of Indianapolis that are not paid very well and are having to work two jobs. She also is upset with the new externship requirements and how teachers get blamed for students’ performances.

“I’m lucky that I’m in my situation where I don’t have to have a second job if I wanted to, but I know a lot of teachers, even people here, need to have a second job,” Fowerbaugh said. “So I went for that reason.”

Teachers that rallied hope to see a change in the next legislative season. Until then, they will continue to fight to see an improvement in the Indiana education system. 

Emma Herwehe
A sign held during the march at the Red for Ed rally. There were almost 15,000 people in attendance, and thousands of signs were held.

“Right is on our side,” Gambill said. “We are focused and driven and determined to make true and lasting change for our students.”