Public education will once again be in the spotlight at the Indiana Statehouse as advocates rally Monday alongside leaders including area Superintendent Phil Downs.
The 2 p.m. event is coordinated by the Indiana Coalition for Public Education, a bipartisan group that advocates for high-quality, equitable, well-funded public schools for all Hoosier children. It held its first Statehouse rally in 2013.
Organizers aren't expecting as large a turnout as the November rally that brought thousands of teachers to Indianapolis, they but hope to attract as many community members, parents, grandparents and teachers as possible, said Cathy Fuentes-Rohwer, coalition president.
The Presidents Day rally is a good way to raise awareness about the importance of public education and remind lawmakers of the desire to fully fund and support public schools, Fuentes-Rohwer said.
She noted the event precedes a nationwide celebration; Public Schools Week begins Feb. 24.
Speakers include students, an Indiana PTA representative, State Superintendent Jennifer McCormick and Downs, who leads Southwest Allen County Schools and is Indiana Superintendent of the Year.
Downs plans to address the impact of vouchers on school funding – research he has been sharing statewide for the past year.
“Monday's visit to the Statehouse is an opportunity to thank lawmakers for their work this session to support and improve Indiana education, but their work is far from over,” Downs said in a statement. “We must continue to invest in Indiana's future and ensure bills passed are what is best for our students, teachers and schools.”
A few Fort Wayne teachers plan to attend, said Sandra Vohs, president of the Fort Wayne Education Association. Although the upcoming rally isn't organized by the Indiana State Teachers Association, the union locals in Allen County appreciate efforts supporting public education, Vohs and her district counterparts said.
“Any show of solidarity among educators, no matter who organizes it, is needed to keep a spotlight on the legislative issues of public education,” Andra Kosmoski, president of the East Allen Educators Association, said by email.
Ryan Henly agreed. He is president of the Southwest Allen County Teachers Association.
“This shows that the need for high quality and well-funded public education isn't just a 'teacher thing,'” Henly said in an email. “It's a societal issue that legislators need to listen to.”
At a glance
What: Rally for public education
When: 2 p.m. Monday
Where: Indiana Statehouse, 200 W. Washington St., Indianapolis
Visit www.indianacoalitionforpubliced.org for more information.