Indiana Teacher Protest 2019

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Indiana teachers took a blow in the fight for better pay Tuesday when lawmakers struck down a bill that would give teachers one-time bonuses.

Teachers rallied for higher salaries during Red for Ed Action Day in November, when thousands of Indiana teachers protested at the state capitol.

The state had an extra $291 million in unexpected state tax revenue. Democrats proposed putting that money toward one-time teacher pay bonuses, but the measure died in committee under a Republican majority.

Instead, Gov. Eric Holcomb wants the extra cash to pay for several construction projects on state college campuses. Democrats argued the money would be better spent on teacher pay, as Indiana lags behind compared surrounding states.

Erin Braune, a teacher at West Clark Community Schools, said she was disappointed but not surprised by lawmakers' actions in Indianapolis.

"We don't hear our voice being respected in the way that it should be, so we will just keep pushing," said Braune, also a member the West Clark Teachers Association. "Hopefully, in the 2020 elections, we see some dramatic changes."

Teachers did have some wins at the capitol Tuesday. Another committee advanced bills to hold teachers harmless from standardized test scores, which would delay penalties to schools from lower student scores on the state's new iLEARN test and stop using them in teacher evaluations.

"We hope to see more actions like the separation of test scores and evaluations, but we are not backing down if we don't," Braune said.

The ILEARN-related bills still need full passage by the General Assembly. Lawmakers will be in session through mid-March.

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