Over 500 members and supporters of the Terre Haute teacher’s union packed into the Vigo County Public Library this morning, and Niall and I were there to stand with them. They were gathered to protest recent charter school, voucher, and right to work legislation proposed by Republicans in Indianapolis. Only one state Democrat braved the state troopers to speak to the audience, but even our absent Democratic Representatives garnered more applause than the five Republican panel members combined. “We knew we were walking into a bit of a hornet’s nest,” said one of the Republicans.
At a time when America is falling behind other countries in math and science scores, we should not let Republicans pretend that we can fight the deficit by slashing teachers’ salaries and benefits. They picked Wisconsin to start the fight because teachers there are actually paid above the national average, and produce above average results. Teaching is not a part-time job, and it does not pay well. But it’s a critical profession for our country’s future. In this day and age, you don’t often see uneducated people founding companies and creating jobs! And private schools are not the answer. Your average Terre Haute resident cannot afford private schooling for their children. While charter schools do offer certain benefits, the lottery systems that come with them are not welcome here. Traditional public schools have lasted us for over 150 years. I’m an example of the product that comes out of public schooling, pre-school through 12th grade. And the average teacher’s salary in my district was just $30k/year. They had to pick up second jobs just to afford homes. It’s no wonder that some teachers are failing some students – they’re probably too worried about their mortgage payment to do their planning! Please stand with me in supporting our teachers in every way possible.