The North Judson-San Pierre School Board President provided a synopsis of the Red for Ed Action Day in Indianapolis when members met Tuesday evening.
Board President Derrick Stalbaum, who works as a teacher for the Eastern Pulaski School Corporation, shared his unique experience after participating in the event at the Statehouse.
He explained, “North Judson teachers were excited that I was there and kept introducing me as their school board president and in my mind I was there as a teacher but I guess it is kind of a dual role but that was a big deal because I don’t think there were a lot of administrators there.”
Stalbaum continued, “So I got a whole lot of comments on that and my big push was when it comes to this fight, when we’re fighting for our kids and for public education, we are doing this together; our administration, our school board, our teachers, we’re all one and we’re fighting for the same thing.”
Stalbaum also touched on the reactions that particular lawmakers had to the thousands of Red for Ed participants who gathered around the Statehouse.
He stated, “It was very interesting to see the legislatures walk in and their demeanor. There were some, specifically some that represent us, who would look straight down at the ground, would not look up at us, just kind of ran into the building as fast as they could.”
He went on to say, “There were others who engaged and were very much happy we were there so that was a very interesting thing and a telling thing. That kind of set the mood for the rest of the day.”
Superintendent Dr. Annette Zupin provided her perspective about the event as well.
She shared, “I am glad that you represented Eastern Pulaski and us and I’m proud of all of our teachers who attended and I hope it makes a difference.”
Stalbaum responded, “I do too. If anything, I think that we showed that we care and that we are fed up […] and that there are numbers that are willing to take action.”
To speak to some of those numbers, Stalbaum noted that out of Indiana’s 291 school districts, 147 closed on November 19th.
He elaborated on that, stating that based on population and enrollment figures, that means more than 60 percent of Hoosier students were impacted and had some type of representation present on Tuesday.
Stalbaum mentioned that there were some misconceptions on why certain schools chose to close down so he touched on that.
He shared, “There were a lot of people who said ‘I would much rather be in my classroom right now’ and I think that’s a huge point. This was not a day off, like I said we were actually cold and wet and we were outside, freezing and we were up at 4 in the morning taking a 2 hour drive.”
Stalbaum added, “We didn’t cancel school so we could have a day off of school, in fact we’re making that day up even, it was done because our kids deserve more.”
The Indiana State Teachers Association facilitated the event and officials reported that about 20,000 educators, parents and community members were in attendance.
The organization’s president Keith Gambill released a statement afterward, commenting that Red for Ed Action day will go down in history as a significant turning point for public education in Indiana.
Gambill emphasized that even though investing budget surplus into teachers’ compensation was one of the things they rallied for, that wasn’t all. He said they were also calling for students, teachers and communities to be held harmless from ILearn results and repealing reportedly problematic professional development requirements associated with renewing teaching licenses.
Gambill added that while lawmakers didn’t act on Tuesday, education representatives will be watching in January to see if bold actions are being taken for Indiana students.
For additional details about Red for Ed Action Day and proposed ‘next steps’, visit the Indiana State Teachers Association’s website.