Thousands rally at Statehouse for education reform, including more school vouchers

Gov. Pence encourages crowd to pressure lawmakers

INDIANAPOLIS - Demand quality education for your kids was the message from a former Pacers star Monday to several thousand people who packed the Statehouse to push for more school reform.
Supporters of school choice -- including students, parents, teachers and administrators -- chanted, “Education reform rocks,” to open their rally.

Reformers are pushing several bills, including more school vouchers and opening up that program to more kids, and tougher grading standards for schools.

Gov. Mike Pence urged the crowd to keep up the pressure on lawmakers, and he reminded them that 10,000 kids will still fail to graduate this year.

"If we put kids first, if we give parents more choices and teachers more freedom to teach, education in Indiana will continue to rock, and it will continue to open doors at home and opportunity for this generation and the next," Pence said.

The keynote speaker was former Pacers star Jalen Rose, who has started his own tuition-free charter school in his hometown Detroit.

He told parents to keep up demands on educators.

"Don't ask. Don't suggest. Don't wonder out loud," Rose said. "Demand quality schools. Demand opportunity for your young men and your young women to be educated at a high level."

Parents, including Michelle Dunahee -- a mother who has five kids in a charter school in Indianapolis -- were full of enthusiasm

"I think that the state of Indiana needs more education reform," Dunahee said. "And it's super exciting to be able to have a choice for my children."

Education reform supporters don't have much to worry about this year. 

They like almost all the bills that are moving forward, although some don't like the bill delaying Common Core standards. 

They're just hoping to keep up the momentum they've generated in recent years.

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