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Teachers should consult local school board to resolve funding issues

EDITORS NOTE: To read another column on the Red for Ed, check out Gracie Vanover’s story supporting the protests. Also, be sure to comment your view on these columns.

By J.D. McKay

Today, teachers all over the state took personal days to go protest at the Indiana State House. In fact, so many took personal days that over 100 of the school corporations in the state are off.  Their main source of frustration is low pay. I do not blame them. I am sure if you asked every American if they would like higher pay, nearly everyone would say yes. However, I believe teachers are going to the wrong place in search of a higher salary. 

The place teachers need to go is the school board and work their pay through their local school corporation. The local school corporation is who decides where and what the money goes to. The 2019-2021 New Albany Floyd County Schools master contract states the salary range is between $40,250 and $73,333. The state education budget is already very high. The whole budget gives 63 percent to all education — K-12, higher education, and teacher pensions — but 44 percent goes just to K-12 education. That comes out to $10,842,098,22 for all education. 

Just as a comparison, the second biggest is health and human services at 24 percent of the budget at $4,246,085,228. So if the education budget was increased, or the K-12 budget increased, there is no guarantee that money would trickle down to teachers. It could go to support staff, like my mom, who works 30 hours a week and gets no retirement from the district. It could also be funneled to athletic departments, pay for the softball field to be moved, increase support staff pay, or used to hire new teachers. 

Another rallying point from the Red for Ed supporters is that $100,000,000 is spent on testing. That stat is from 2017. The 2019 state budget shows that number to be much lower, $45,111,344. That number includes the PSAT ($1,900,000), Advanced Placement testing ($5,200,000), and remediation testing($11,711,344). The phrase used by the Indiana State Teachers Association is testing, and on page 79 of the Budget Bill, you will see that the number is $26,000,000.

I understand what teachers want. More pay and funding would make education better. However, protesting in Indianapolis is not the answer. The most logical option is to get the change to happen at the local school board. Do not be afraid to look for these stats. Look through the state budget. Contact a state senator. Do not just take what I say, or what the news says, as the truth. Make sure to research this before deciding. 

Teachers need Red for Ed

EDITOR’S NOTE: To read another column on the Red for Ed, check out JD McKay’s story opposing the protests. Also, be sure to comment your view on these columns.

Story by Gracie Vanover

For the last 16 years, my mom has been everything from a special education teacher to a middle school math teacher. My sophomore year my mom transferred from her teaching job in Louisville to an Indiana school district. Although my mom loved teaching at that school more than any other school she had taught at, there was one issue that drove her to go back across the bridge. The low pay. 

As of 2017 Indiana was ranked last out of all the states in teacher pay between 

2002 and 2017, according to the Rockefeller Institute. Indiana also ranks 51 in the country for teacher salary raises over the last 15 years, according to Forbes. When my mom transferred to an Indiana school her pay was cut almost in half compared to what she made as a Kentucky teacher. As a mother of three kids there was no option but to leave her Indiana teaching job for financial security for her family. 

Not only is teacher pay low but most of the funding increases are not going to public schools where 90 percent of Hoosier students attend. The South Bend Tribune writes that there was a “2.06 percent & 2.07 percent funding increase for public schools versus 10.30 percent & 10.47 percent funding increase for charter schools.” When almost every student in Indiana goes to a public school it makes no sense as to why funding for these schools is so low. Charter schools are less regulated by our government but they are getting better increases from the government. Although public schools are government regulated they are on the lower side of funding. When comparing the circumstances the results do not add up.

Due to these funds being so low many teachers have to supply their own classrooms with materials like pencils, paper, expo markers, and more. I could not tell you how many totes of school supplies my mom has bought on sale and stocked up so her classes would be prepared to do basic learning. According to the National Education Association teachers on average spend 459 dollars. That of course, is on the low end.

While teachers pour money from their own pockets for materials the state is spending asinine amounts of money on ridiculous means. Each school year 100 million dollars is spent on standardized testing in Indiana. Not only is it wasted on these tests, but many of these tests show faulty results. Recently Indiana introduced the ILEARN tests. Chalkbeat, an educational news website, states that students failed both the English and math portion due to skewed questions. These failed scores can impact the grading scale and even teacher pay at certain points. 

Although Indiana is having school funding troubles, we are not alone in this battle.

In 2018 the Red for Ed movement was started by teachers across the country to get the funding they deserve. With school funding being low nationwide the picture is much bigger than just us and our teachers. As a nation our education is suffering, and our teachers and administrators notice that. 

As students we see all of the hard work our teachers, school board members, and administrators do for us. They recognize our hard work in sports, academics, and clubs. They help us up when we are down and get us to where we need to be. They are preparing us to go off into successful careers, so why are we letting theirs suffer? 

Our generation is always seeking change. We want to fix issues like pollution and climate change but we never think of the issue right in front of us every school day. As a student and daughter of a teacher I see just how much teachers go out of their way for us, and I know other students do, too.

So, stand up for the math teacher who stays after helping with homework. Stand up for the band director who spend weekends at band competitions and helping students grow as musicians. Stand up for the coach who teaches teamwork and pushes players to be their best. Stand up for the teachers, because they sacrifice so much more than time and pay for us.

 

New act proposes to reduce tobacco use among teens

Story by Shari Rowe

As the press stake out spots in the small studio, people bustle about setting up cameras and opening their notebooks. Four students prepare and practice their speeches as everyone awaits Senator Todd Young’s arrival.

The topic of the hour is tobacco products like E-cigs and Juuls, and of the act going to Congress that intends to raise the legal age for buying tobacco products to 21, called Tobacco for 21. Those who support the act are very hopeful that it will pass.

“Well, I’m kind of like Senator Young. I’d like to think positively about it, but I’m not in the guarantee business. So I really hope it does, but could I a hundred percent guarantee it, I’m not in that position,” said Teresa Hebert, who helped set up the conference.

The students advocating for the act that spoke were FC students Tyler Barrett, Zachary Vitale, and Myla Tissandier, and New Albany student Ashia Carr. These teens are part of the group Teens For Tobacco 21, or T4TT.

“We got started in July of 2018 when we were doing a day of service with Miles for Merry Miracles. After visiting about five places where we volunteered we stopped for lunch and Ms. Hebert asked us, ‘What is one issue among your peers you’re concerned with most?’” said Barrett. “The first thing that popped into my mind was E-cigarettes. Then, one of the middle schoolers in our group said E-cigarettes. This is very shocking for us to hear, that E-cigarettes were even an issue in middle schools, so Ms. Hebert then asked us what are we going to do about it.”

Smoking is known as a dangerous activity, causing illnesses like lung disease and cancer; moreover, cigarettes are not the only product the act targets. 

“Actually, another thing that has been a craze over our youth is vaping,” said Tissandier. “I recently read a news article about how eight teens were hospitalized because of severe lung damage from vaping. According to the CDC, the number of high schoolers who use E-cigarettes skyrocketed between 2011 and 2018 from 220,000 users to more than 3 million.”

According to the American Heart Association, while vaping doesn’t have everything that is in cigarettes, it should not be considered as an alternative.

“E-cig vapor includes potentially harmful substances such as nicotine, diacetyl (a chemical linked to a serious lung disease), cancer-causing chemicals, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead. And because vapor is exhaled, those nearby are also exposed to these contaminants,” they said on their website.

However, people under 18 have access to tobacco products with the age limit at 18. It is very unlikely that everyone under age would stop taking tobacco products, but it can reduce the amount.

“So it’s not uncommon for a fifteen-year-old to know an eighteen-year-old. It’s less common for a fifteen year old to have a close relationship to a 21-year old. So this is not a panacea, this is not a solution,” said Young, “but as so many of our speakers, student speakers, indicated today, the intention here is to significantly reduce the illegal transfer of tobacco products from some young people to other young people, and therefore significantly reduce the adverse health impacts associated with E-cigarettes and vaping and cigarettes.”

The act, overall, is meant to lower the amount of people who vape and smoke. It will also bring attention to the large problem at hand.

“When you have a staggering numbers of the increase in users that high, and in a product that’s that dangerous,” said State Senator Ron Grooms. “eventually your message will sink in. Eventually it will be, the message will be sold.”

The use of tobacco can cause long-term damaging side effects from disease to even death.

Vitale said, “The health of my friends and our future generation is far too valuable to let this go up in smoke.”

 

Q&A with Master Gunnery Sergeant Lyn Akermon, Naval Science Instructor at New Albany High School

By Aurora Robinson

Bagpiper: Can you describe to me what Basic Leadership Training is?

Lyn Akermon: “Basic Leadership Training in my opinion is character development. We take cadets from different schools around the local area— Louisville, Southern Indiana—and we mix them all together, they are all strangers. They have to be functional as one, as a unit. We make it stressful. It’s a stressful environment, stressful mentally and physically because we do a lot of physical training in it. The mental aspect is we teach classes, we put them in leadership roles. They all have to try a leadership role during the week. They have to learn each other’s weaknesses, each other’s strengths. To be a good leader you have to be a good follower. But some people have more leadership abilities than others. Basic Leadership Training is, to me, character development. It shows the individual what are my weaknesses what are my strengths? Am I better physically than others? It teaches me about teamwork, comradery, it teaches me how to give certain people tasks. You can’t task just anybody on anything until you know their strengths and weaknesses. So you wouldn’t give somebody a job, in other words, that you knew they were weak in that job and they could not accomplish that job or that mission. So it’s not just about you learning about you, it’s learning about others around you and in life you have to play the hand that you’re dealt. So, Basic Leadership Training teaches you strengths, weaknesses, not just yours, but your teammates and it teaches you how to accomplish goals, or the military calls it accomplish a mission together with what you have at hand. That’s what basic leadership training is.”

“We do it using the military style of training. Physical training, lots of marching. We have team events because we are huge on building teams, uniform inspections, and a lot of it, too, we just have fun events because we teach them that there’s time that you have to work and there’s time that you need to relax and enjoy yourself, too. That’s a lot how the military deals with stress. Everyone is human you’ve got to have some down time.”

BP: Why would you push your cadets to do BLT?

LA: “I don’t do this job to put people in the military. I do this job to make them productive citizens, to make them good citizens. Basically, to teach them that all through life there’s going to be leaders, there’s going to be followers, there’s going to be a lot of stress in your life and the sooner you learn to deal with the stresses of life, the better you can handle the tough situations in anything you do. If you go to college, if you go to the military, if you go to the workforce, family, no matter what happens, you can deal with stress in your life and you have got to learn how to accept it and you have got to learn how to overcome it. And that’s the main reason for leadership training.”

BP: Is there anything else you would like to add?

LA: “I think the most it does for them—it’s a confidence builder and it’s extremely good for those cadets who always doubt themselves. It just shows them that they can overcome obstacles in life. That’s the main thing.”