147 Indiana school districts cancel classes as teachers rally

Thousands of Indiana teachers are turning the state Capitol into a sea of red as they demand better pay and more funding for public schools.

At least 147 school districts canceled classes Tuesday for the “Red for Ed Action Day,” said Kim Clements-Johnson, spokeswoman for the Indiana State Teachers Association.

Connie Neri-Jones and 150 of her colleagues drove more than two hours from East Chicago, Indiana, to protest.

“Teaching is a profession, not a charity,” said Neri-Jones, who’s worked in Indiana schools for 47 years.

“We have a huge shortage of qualified teachers, and increased funding could help ameliorate that demand.”

The teachers were joined at the one-day event by supporters such as Becky Pringle, vice president of the National Education Association.

Schools that canceled classes have implemented an e-learning program for students to complete their assignments at home, the Indianapolis Star reported.

Indiana State Teachers Association President Keith Gambill said teachers spent the day outside the Capitol with the intention of showing them they are at a crisis point.

“We believe that we have made a point and have put legislators on notice that it is time to change the way they are legislating public schools in Indiana and to remind them that there is an election in November,” Gambill said.

Last week, state Superintendent Jennifer McCormick released her 2020 legislative priorities for the Indiana Department of Education.

While there was no specific mention of teacher wages in her outline, McCormick said her main focus continues to be student learning, school improvement and operational effectiveness.

McCormick said she would discuss her 2020 legislative priorities Tuesday and their connection to the Red for Ed Action Day.

CNN’s Rebekah Riess contributed to this report.