Teachers in Indiana, United States of America, rallied at the state Capitol on Saturday, demanding an increase in wages. According to reports, the rally, called by the Indiana State Teachers Association, was joined by more than 1,000 teachers and their supporters. The protesters carried signs that read, “Education should not be a DEBT service,” “Teachers just want to have funds,” and “Knowledge is a super power. Defend Public Education.”
The demonstrators demanded that the state legislature prioritize the teachers’ demands, and called for an urgent increase in their salary, which remains much lower compared to that in other states in the country.
According to the National Education Association’s website, the teachers’ pay range in Indiana is between USD 24,000 to 90,000. For years, Indiana has been in the spotlight with regard to teachers’ pay, especially as real earnings suffered. The National Center for Education statistics show that the average pay dropped between 2000 and 2017 — from USD 59,986 in 1999-2000 to USD 50,554 in 2016-17.
The average salary of teachers in Ohio is USD 57,000, while that for the Indiana teachers is USD 8,000 behind the national average.
People’s World reported that “Indiana has seen its public school funding gutted in recent years, with tax money diverted to a competing charter school system that the Indiana Department of Education’s own evaluations continually show fails to perform as well as public schools”.
Earlier, Indiana governor Eric Holcomb had called for a 2% increase in state funding for K-12 (kindergarten to 12th grade) education each year for the next two years. He also proposed using state surplus money to pay off pension liability, and freeing up some local funds for districts to increase teachers’ pay.
However, in February, the Republican-controlled Indiana legislature voted down a proposed amendment to ensure that all teachers start at a minimum of USD 40,000 a year, citing the “fact” that most are already there. In fact, just 30 out of Indiana’s 287 school districts (10.5%) start at or above the USD 40,000 mark.
Over the past year, teachers in a number of US States have gone on strike, seeking better pay, more funds for education and better amenities at schools. Recently, after seven days of strike, Oakland’s teachers won an 11% pay raise and progress on issues like class sizes and support-staff ratios. Teachers in West Virginia also called off their strike as the state legislature set aside a controversial bill on education. After two weeks of work stoppage, teachers in Chicago reached an agreement with the authorities. Teachers in Denver and Los Angeles also went on strike and won an increase in basic pay. Strikes also took place in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arizona and Washington, among others.