A group of Ben Davis teachers gather on the steps of the Indiana Statehouse at Tuesday's RedforEd rally.
Editor’s note: Dr. Jeff Butts, superintendent of Wayne Township, shares a letter he wrote to all of Wayne Township in response to Tuesday’s RedforEd rally in downtown Indianapolis.
If you were able to get downtown today (Tuesday), what an amazing site to see what some estimate to be over 16,000 in red supporting teachers and public education. Tuesday, November 19th was a great beginning to what I hope will lead to significant change in legislation. However, memories can be short in the world of politics. So, today, I ask you to think about what kind of action you will take to ensure the RedforEd rally was not just a one day event. Between today and Nov. 3, 2020, what will you do to create a long-lasting change for the future of teachers and public education?
The state of our system is a result of decades of budgetary and legislative decisions. This did not happen overnight, and it won’t be fixed in a day. There has been a sustained effort by our elected officials to systematically dismantle public education through standardized testing, ever changing accountability systems and increasing funding for vouchers and choice scholarship (private) schools. Reversing that tide so we can see a substantive change will only come through legislative action.
That old adage , “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got” is so true. If we do not step up on November 3, 2020 and support legislative candidates who support teachers and public education, we can not expect to see different attitudes, policies, or budgetary decisions in the upcoming sessions. If the same people continue to have control, that significant change is not likely.
The sphere of influence for Wayne employees is large. Many of our employees live in other communities and are represented by other elected officials. With that breadth, we have an opportunity to have our voices heard by many. Research how your state representatives and senators voted on educational issues like funding public education and supporting teachers. You might be surprised. When educators band together, they make a difference. A perfect example is the 2012 election for State Superintendent of Public Instruction: A change was made because educators and friends of educators voted for a candidate who supported teachers and public education.
Will you consider emailing your legislators this week and sharing with them your experience downtown, your support for teachers and public education, your interest in how they have voted on educational issues in past sessions, and that you’ll be watching how they vote this session on educational issues? If you don’t know who your legislators are, you can find them here:
These are exciting times for education in Indiana. Congratulations on being part of what I believe will be a significant period in our history. Let’s keep the momentum moving forward!! #WeAreWayne
Jeffrey K. Butts, Ph.D.
MSD of Wayne Township