Protesters Raise Awareness About Public Education Legislation

By: Ryan McCormick Last Updated: February 24, 2011

Amidst honking, clapping and freezing temperatures, a larger than expected crowd showed up for Wednesday’s Public Education Rally at Court House Square in Valparaiso. Over 300 students, parents and educators stood along Lincolnway for two hours expressing their frustration over the recent education legislation passed by the Indiana General Assembly.

“No, no, it’s not about pay. It’s about the excellent job that districts in our area have done to create great learning situations for kids,” said Charles Foster, a Valparaiso High School Teacher and the rally organizer.

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“We are doing things well, why can’t we maintain that control to keep doing things well?”

It was not only Valparaiso teachers and parents to show up to the rally. All of Northwest Indiana was represented at the rally from Portage to LaPorte and Chesterton to Michigan City; there was someone from everywhere in the region. It did not matter whether someone was a current educator or a retired teacher they were both there expressing their support for public education.

“Our teacher association wanted to come up with a simple idea to raise community awareness of what are the changes that look like are on the horizon from the state legislature, get information in their hands and let them decide what they think are the best solutions to this,” Foster said at the rally.

During the two hours, if anyone was in downtown Valparaiso they must have heard the horns honking on Lincolnway as cars drove by in support of teachers and public education. One thing organizers wanted for representatives to take from the event was their frustration of how quickly changes would begin.

“Well what I hope they take away from [the rally] is that when you want to make changes, there’s a process that you should go through to help make the changes positive and buy into the changes. Some of those factors are, you need to really look at what those factors really are and in our state there are a lot of different levels of needs,” Foster added.

Only time will tell what will happen with education legislation in the state. For the second day in a row, Democratic representatives failed to show up to the state house stalling all legislation for those days. More rallies are planned for next week in Crown Point and Hebron. The Superintendent of Public Instruction, Dr. Tony Bennett, is expected to attend the event in Hebron.

Click here for a photo gallery of the rally!