Students and professors walked outside the Teachers College 11 a.m. Tuesday. Some left their classrooms, and others joined them to protest in support of public school teachers.
Educators for Equity and Justice (EEJ), a Ball State student organization advocating future teachers to promote social justice, organized the rally to highlight events going on at the “Red for Ed Action Day” protest at the statehouse in Indianapolis.
With an average salary increase between 2002-16 of approximately $6,900, Indiana ranks 51st among U.S. states and the District of Columbia in public school teacher salary increases over the past 10 years, according to the Rockefeller Institute of Government, a public policy think tank.
Participants at the Ball State protest lined up along McKinley Avenue in front of the Teachers College. They began shouting chants and waving signs, and vehicles passing by honked their horns in support of the cause.
Mikayla Strahm, EEJ vice president and senior early childhood education major, said students from the organization began planning last week for the protests.
“We had so much support from people who we look up to as students,” Strahm said about Ball State professors who stood behind the cause.
Alison Schwartz, EEJ member and senior elementary education major, said it’s important to advocate for public education.
“This is important because our teachers are important, and our kids are important,” Schwartz said. “If you can’t fully fund your teachers and your schools and support them, then how are you supporting your kids?”
As part of her major’s concentration, she said she works with students who don’t speak English as their first language.
“Those students don't always have somebody who's standing up for them and rooting for them,” Schwartz said. “And those people who are standing up and rooting for them aren’t getting the resources that they need to do it well.”
Harley McCloud, a freshman political science major who was protesting, said his mother — a teacher — attended the Indianapolis rally.
“I think that teachers are shaping young kids’ minds, and the youth is our future,” McCloud said. “And I feel like, if we don’t stand up now, no one will.”
Amy Honn, a freshman elementary education major, said she walked out of the classroom after her professor told her class it was OK if they participated.
Kristin Cipollone, faculty advisor for EEJ who teaches an immersive learning program, said all her students went to Indianapolis this morning.
Cipollone said EEJ is a group dedicated to public education and creating “activist educators who fight for justice.”
EEJ members wanted to bring the protests to Ball State to allow more teaching majors to join because many students couldn’t attend the rally in Indianapolis, she said.