Why is there no school on Tuesday?

Thursday, November 14, 2019

By now, local parents and other concerned citizens are aware a movement is afoot among teachers across the county and the state.

Three of the four county school corporations and 132 of 291 statewide are either having an e-learning day or canceling classes on Tuesday, Nov. 19.

Locally, this applies to three schools. Greencastle will have an e-learning day on Tuesday. South Putnam will cancel school on Tuesday, but will make up for it with an e-learning day on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday, Jan. 20. Cloverdale Schools will cancel on Tuesday and make it up with an in-school makeup day on Jan. 20.

As of 9:30 Thursday evening, 132 of 291 school districts in the state of Indiana had either canceled school or scheduled an e-learning day on Tuesday, which will be the ISTA Day of Action at the Indiana Statehouse. Red areas on the map indicate schools with some sort of closure.
Source: Brian Smeltzer

In all three cases, the corporations cited the reason for the closure as a teacher shortage. However, all three superintendents have expressed their support for what teachers, through the Indiana State Teachers Association, are trying to accomplish on Tuesday.

But what are the teachers hoping to do? What is the ISTA Day of Action? Why Tuesday? Are the teachers simply looking for more money?

With these and other questions in mind, Greencastle Classroom Teachers Association President Kristien Hamilton reached out to the Banner Graphic with answers to questions she has heard regarding Tuesday and what it means both locally and at the state level.

First of all, Hamilton addressed the need to rally on what would otherwise be a normal day of school for teachers and students.

"Next Tuesday is a required day for all legislators to be in attendance, as Organization Day is made up of the swearing in of General Assembly members as well as the annual first roll call. It allows caucuses to organize in preparation for the upcoming session.

"We have already attempted other actions such as writing emails, sending postcards, calling our legislators, meeting with them individually, going to town halls and asking about education in public forums.

"Earlier this year, we rallied at the Statehouse on a Saturday so as not to miss school. This was a much smaller event than what will be present next Tuesday.

"Teachers have visited the Statehouse after school hours, some schools have held walk-ins, where teachers gathered before school and walked into their buildings together as a visual sign of solidarity.

"Even after doing all of these things we havenít seen any resolutions to very serious issues. We want more urgency from state officials. Our students will benefit greatly in the long run if a cohesive and united message is presented to our state legislators."

Hamilton next addressed the goals the ISTA has for the 2020 legislative session.

"We are not just going to rally for more money. ISTA has three goals for the upcoming legislative session.

"1. They want to see the state make significant progress toward raising teacher pay across the state. Indiana continues to lag behind neighboring states in average pay and has seen some of the slowest wage growth of all teachers nationwide.

"2. Teachers have been scapegoats and our salaries have remained mostly stagnant as our burdens have continued to grow.

"3. Teachers are leaving the profession and we are attracting fewer new educators to the profession. Every year we wait the problem is only going to become exponentially worse."

Hamilton went on to share a couple of other priorities teachers have in the upcoming session.

The union is also asking for lawmakers to make good on a promise to hold school districts harmless from poor performances on a new statewide test, administered last spring.

They also want the repeal of new license requirements pushed through this year which requires teachers to log 15 hours of professional development regarding the needs of local employers.

While the event is organized by the Indiana State Teachers Association, it has grown beyond a union-only or even teachers-only event.

The 124 districts that had announced closures of some sort as of noon on Thursday represent 42.61 percent of state school corporations, 47.24 percent of school buildings and 51.11 percent of Hoosier students.

The numbers have continued to steadily increase in recent days.

More than 13,000 people have registered to attend the rally, including teachers, staff, administrators, parents, community members and students.

Locally, the Greencastle Classroom Teachers Association struck an agreement with the school corporation to use GCSC buses to transport teachers, staff, parents and community members to and from the rally. The association will pay for the fuel, with ISTA compensation to come later.

GCSC currently has two buses slated to leave the McAnally Center parking lot at 7 a.m. and return by 4 p.m.

Anyone interested in riding the bus should contact Hamilton at khamilton@greencastle.k12.in.us by Saturday.

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  • Half of the entire state budget

    75% of local property taxes

    All for a system that produces sub par results.

    It is always more money when it should be less spending and more accountability by parents, reducing a bloated bureaucracy and some teachers that shouldnít be in the classroom.

    Promises made to all the special interests that demand resources and social services are a heavy load for system that really canít deliver.

    Every parent should have the flexibility to be tailoring an education plan that suits their needs.

    For this amount of tax dollars we should be seeing better results. Too many non-educational costs are baked into these budgets.

    The system is broken.

    -- Posted by direstraits on Fri, Nov 15, 2019, at 5:23 AM
  • *

    Agreed.

    -- Posted by dreadpirateroberts on Fri, Nov 15, 2019, at 12:41 PM
  • Gotta love Hamilton saying "this isn't just about money" and then proceeding to list off the following focus:

    1) Increase Teacher Pay = About Money

    2) Stagnant Teacher Salary = About Money

    3) Teacher Shortage = About Money (need higher salary to attract)

    4) Not hold poor performance scores against schools = About Money (raises are tied to performance scores)

    5) Remove requirements focusing on local business needs = Not about money

    So, in summary 80% of their asks are about money, but this protest is TOTALLY NOT about money.

    -- Posted by hometownboy on Fri, Nov 15, 2019, at 1:01 PM
  • You are right it has some to do with money. Why is it wrong to want to be compensated as other states are? Why is it different than the food workers union, UAW, Iron workers...etc. When they go on strike we don't question them, what is different?? These teachers are molding the lives of our future. Let's support them! I will wear Red for Ed

    -- Posted by fullhouse7373 on Sat, Nov 16, 2019, at 9:06 AM
  • The 19th isnít only about money, but teachers in this state have every right to be upset about money.

    Ever had your salary go backwards? This year, local teachersí pay remained the same, but insurance costs went up. That equals a pay CUT!

    I didnít go into teaching to clean up and make it rain; BUT when I started, I was able to look years ahead on a salary scale and know I could at least have a comfortable future as long as I did a good job. That is no longer the case, which is why this, along with ridiculous state mandates made by politicians with mostly zero classroom experience, is why high-quality people rarely choose teaching in this state.

    Want facts and figures?

    Indiana ranks 47th in funding per student.

    Indiana spends $100 million on standardized testing each year. (Btw, these tests are usually horrible and graders are paid hourly and sometimes have zero educational experience)

    Virtual charter schools defrauded Indiana of $40 million.

    Indianaís national ranking in teacher salary increases over the past 10 years is 51st.

    Sources: Journal Gazette and South Bend Tribune

    As taxpayers, these facts SHOULD fire you up too, but you would rather spend your energy coming up with reasons teachers are being ridiculous for taking ONE day to make a point.

    Listen, I havenít gotten dragged into Banner commentary ďdiscussionsĒ in years. I hear you haters attack everyone and live to make Banner comments. Thatís sad, but Iím here now right along with you, and I will not back down on this issue.

    Nicole Burkhalter

    -- Posted by nkempf on Sat, Nov 16, 2019, at 9:10 AM
  • https://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-9-states-where-teachers-have-it-worst/?fbclid=I...

    Check out these stats. Didnít you want hard numbers?

    Nicole Burkhalter

    -- Posted by nkempf on Sat, Nov 16, 2019, at 4:50 PM
  • Need more? Hereís information about the sham tests to become a tescher and how testing companies are profiting on the backs of future teachers.

    I know youíll say we arenít in favor of rigorous testing for new teachers. But please read this and tell me if this sounds like a fair system. FOLLOW THE MONEY!!!

    https://inside-education.org/2019/11/13/a-dirty-little-secret-adds-fuel-to-the-r...

    -- Posted by nkempf on Sun, Nov 17, 2019, at 7:52 AM
  • *

    Nicole -

    No one is saying that you cannot ask for a raise. If you feel you deserve it, ask for one.*

    But you seem to imply that simply throwing more money at the teachers and the school districts is going to somehow make education better when history and current facts clearly show us that this isn't the case.

    As for your asking about the difference between the teachers union and the UAW, etc., it is this: The teachers union is a PUBLIC SECTOR union, where the UAW and the Ironworkers are not. Big difference.

    As for your Inside Education blog link - I read it. I agree. Testing requirements may be too hard for some people. And there may be some issues with the process of licensing.

    But these two issues (pay & licensure) are mutually exclusive.

    You, however, are using "B" to try to convince everyone for the need of "A".

    If you wish to discuss licensing requirements - I would love to have that conversation. I think that licensing requirements and professional development and all the other fluff is absolute nonsense.

    As is the insane amount of money spent on high school athletics, and other non-essentials. (My opinion. Yours may vary.)

    But simply telling me that you deserve more money b/c you are a teacher, while simultaneously wishing to discard the only metrics we have for determining if you are a good teacher, is ludicrous.

    * Of course you cannot ask for a raise individually b/c you have accepted the unions pay scale in order for them to be your advocate, at a price (union dues).

    So where you SHOULD be able to negotiate your own contract (and thereby argue for your own worth), you are now reduced to being a "member" of the union where your worth is measured simply as length of membership and eduational milestones you have achieved.

    You (who may be a good teacher) are paid the same, or even less, than another teacher (who may be a bad teacher) simply b/c you don't have as many years in.

    In the union, you are not special. You are not an individual. You are a resource. You are an input to be used as they need for their purpose.

    -- Posted by dreadpirateroberts on Mon, Nov 18, 2019, at 11:03 AM
  • Dreadpirateroberts you summed up my thoughts exactly! Nicely stated.

    -- Posted by SP_Mom on Mon, Nov 18, 2019, at 4:19 PM
  • dreadpirateroberts,

    Please donít put words in my mouth. Iíve never mentioned anything about unionsóprivate or public. That was someone else. This issue is so much more important than a battle over unions. But while weíre on the topic, you have stated before that you donít post on weekends, because you have better things to do. You wouldnít have that weekend if it werenít for unions. Have I always agreed with the ISTA and NEA? No, but I will always support my local association. I would NEVER negotiate my own contract. Are there bad teachers? Absolutely. Any administrator who can read a contract, can remove a bad teacher. Period. Any good teacher 100% wants bad teachers fired.

    I have also never implied that simply throwing more money at schools is the answer. I would like to see Indiana try some things that have worked in other states or countries. Finland is a phenomenal example (strong union, high-paid teachers, little to no standardized testing, and #1 in the world). Iím tired of Indiana being a bottom dweller compared to other states. Iím also a taxpayer with a child in the school system. Do you think I want to see money wasted? Valuing teachers is not a waste of taxpayer money.

    I also donít imply that teachers should be paid more money without appropriate evaluations. Have you seen our evaluation instrument? You make comments like you know everything about how teachers in Indiana are currently paid. You obviously do not.

    I notice that when you donít have responses to my key points, you deflect with rants about things I havenít mentioned once.

    Honestly, I donít WISH to discuss anything in this forum. I just simply canít sit back and watch misinformation about teachers be thrown around.

    Nicole Burkhalter

    -- Posted by nkempf on Mon, Nov 18, 2019, at 4:59 PM
  • *

    Nicole -

    I am not trying to put words in your mouth. I am trying to understand what it is that you are advocating for.

    I apologize for that mix-up. It was not you that mentioned the unions.

    However, you do throw around NEA/ISTA (union) statistics and talking points b/c you want more money. This whole RedforEd thing is MOSTLY about teacher pay. (It is always the 1st thing mentioned, even by the teachers unions.)

    To this (more teacher pay): I say no, you are paid a fair salary for the area.

    By supporting the union (and you do support the union), you advocate for throwing more money at the problem with little/no accountability.

    As for Finland - please tell what it is that they do that we should try. And explain just what it is that they are #1 in...b/c I honestly know just about nothing about Finland (except for some geographical and historical stuff) and I am genuinely curious. I will try to do some of my own research on this topic as well.

    No, I have not seen your evaluation instrument. But now that you mention it I will try to see one so that I can better understand.

    I make comments based on what I do know and believe based on what others know and have shared. In regards to teacher pay - its pretty black & white in the contract. As to the actual funding of this, I have a general idea although some of it is a bit fuzzy.

    I don't mean to deflect from your key points, and if you feel I have missed one please let me know what you would like addressed.

    I don't think anyone wants misinformation thrown around. But there can be a difference of opinion without it being misinformation.

    Obviously you and I see most things differently. But as noted prior there is some agreement - at least in regards to professional development stuff.

    Perhaps we should start there? If we kept your pay at the current rate but gave you back some of your time and money (by eliminating fluff), would you be willing to entertain that idea?

    -- Posted by dreadpirateroberts on Tue, Nov 19, 2019, at 9:20 AM
  • dpr,

    I appreciate your willingness to educate yourself on this topic. I also appreciate your tone. I feel like I can talk to you with much less anger now. The definition of gall post was rough. Lol.

    Finland

    https://bigthink.com/mike-colagrossi/no-standardized-tests-no-private-schools-no...

    Of course, I feel like Iím worth more. Who doesnít? But the real issue here is attracting quality, young teachers. I started in 1995. I knew what I was signing up for in 1995, but teaching in 2019 is a whole different animal.

    This is what I say to those stating that teachers are well-paid with benefits out the wazoo:

    This is a free country. Everyone is free to try teaching. If teaching is so cushy, join us. There is a serious shortage.

    Nicole Burkhalter

    -- Posted by nkempf on Tue, Nov 19, 2019, at 10:08 AM
  • *

    Nicole - Thank you.

    I just read your link, and there are some very interesting concepts that could (and maybe SHOULD) be explored.

    Without more research, I would be hesitant to just say "they do it, why can't we?"

    One thing that is a concern to me is their socialistic approach to education as demonstrated by this quote from the article:

    "*Education should be an instrument to balance out social inequality.

    *All students receive free school meals.

    *Ease of access to health care.

    *Psychological counseling."

    These things are very prevalent in state-run, central-planning types of government systems whereby people are not free individuals but resources of the State. But I suppose that is a whole other discussion of political theory - so for now I will label these things as simply "unAmerican" based on the ideas behind our U S Constitution.

    One of the things that I do agree with (and have long advocated for) is the idea that not everyone needs to go to school for 12 years or beyond. The idea of trade schools and vocational schools for many as well as actually testing to see if you qualify to go to university (which is fairly common throughout Europe from my understanding) is appealing to me and many that I have spoken to.

    If we try looking at the US and Finland comparatively, I think that you would find Finland to be much more homogeneous than the US, which skews any comparison. I believe this can also be seen in the widely disparate testing results between other cultures around the world (say US vs Asia) and even between cultures within the boundaries of the US. So when looking at the big picture, to compare Finland (F culture) to the US (A+B+C+D+...culture) isn't a good idea.

    Still - all considered, it seems that at the very least, we are not necessarily of opposite destinations...just disagreeing how we get there and who pays for it. So there is that.

    -- Posted by dreadpirateroberts on Tue, Nov 19, 2019, at 12:10 PM
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