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.