Teachers Rally At Statehouse Against GOP Proposals

Hundreds Gather Tuesday Evening

Hundreds of teachers and their supporters descended on the Statehouse on Tuesday to support public education and denounce proposals backed by Republicans who control the House and Senate.

The Indiana State Teachers Association and the Indiana Federation of Teachers urged teachers to pack the Statehouse for their "Rally for Public Education."

The unions object to several proposals from Gov. Mitch Daniels that are gaining traction in the Republican-controlled General Assembly, including restrictions on collective bargaining, merit pay for teachers and vouchers that would direct taxpayer money to private schools.

"I think if it was going to be true reform, then you would have included the teachers, the administrators, all of the public school people," said Gerri McIver, a teacher in Kokomo. "As a taxpayer, I'm very concerned that my tax money for public (schools) is now going to go to a charter school where only half of the people have to be certified."

Teachers around the state have already raised complaints about the proposals, but Tuesday's rally was aimed at letting them share their opinions directly with lawmakers gathered in Indianapolis for the 2011 legislative session.

"I am really saddened by the fact that I really feel the reform is to take away the balance that's been there between administration and the teaching staff," said Shirley Golichowski, a teacher at South Bend Washington High School. "When you have that balance, then good things have always come for the students."

Daniels issued a strong rebuttal to the rally through his spokeswoman, Jane Jankowski.

"As always, the union's demand is more money, no change. Their priority is their organization, not the young people of Indiana," he said. "Their special interest domination of education policy from the local level to the Statehouse has hurt Indiana children for too long and, this year, change must finally come."