Teachers On Republican Education Agenda: "Not Without A Fight"

By John W. Davis

February 3, 2011 Updated Oct 27, 2013 at 7:48 AM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - "Not without a fight." That was the rallying cry for about 150 teachers, who are standing up against what they call an attack on public education.

As Indiana's NewsCenter has previously reported, education reform is one of the top priorities over the next few months for Indiana General Assembly lawmakers.

In 2011, more than 40 education bills are on the legislative agenda in Indianapolis.

All proposals would make sweeping changes, affecting teachers and your child's education.

Two of the main issues would take a percentage of existing state education funding and spend it outside of public schools.

One idea is to use education funding on private-school vouchers.

The other idea is to create new laws to aid the exponential growth of the number of charter schools in Indiana.

Indiana House Speaker Republican Brian Bosma visited Fort Wayne in January for a town hall meeting.

At that time, Bosma pitched charter schools as being "especially effective at reaching out to those who are under served, in disadvantaged communities and giving them an option that is right for their family."

However, local public school advocates debate Bosma knowledge on the subject.

"The data does not support charter schools as a better alternative to public education because more than 80% or those charter schools are performing in the bottom third (bottom 33%) of all the state schools in the state of Indiana," said FWCS Jefferson Middle School Teacher Gloria Dance.

Meanwhile, Indiana State Teachers Association UniServe Director Steve Brace said teachers are tired of being blamed for what's wrong in education.

The crowd of about 150 teachers sounded their agreement with Brace, with a loud round of applause.

Brace also said schools should not be run like businesses.

The Teacher Legislative Rally which was held Thursday evening in the Northrop High School Auditorium, drew support from the Indiana Teachers Union.

"I think it is clearly an attempt to break the union. To break our association, to separate our members individually," said Indiana State Teachers Association President Nate Schnellenberger.

Many public school teachers said Senate Bill 575 also poses a big problem.

The bill would limit bargaining rights on union contracts to salary and fringe benefits.

It would eliminate teachers say on evaluations, procedures and working conditions.

Teachers believe bargaining rights are essential in keeping an open line of communication between workers and the school district.

They believe those bargaining rights give them input on school reform on a local level.

"We've heard Dr. (Tony) Bennett (Indiana Department of Education Superintendent) say that when this session is over, he hopes that each teacher is dealt with on an individual basis rather than a group basis," continued Schnellenberger.

Teachers will rally against the Governors' education agenda on Tuesday, February 8, 2011, at the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis.

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