JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WAVE) - The day after marching teachers turned the Indiana Statehouse red, demanding changes in education policy, lawmakers are responding to their pleas.
"It's not my house," Sen Ron Grooms, (R) Jeffersonville, said. "It's not the legislators house. It's their house. It belongs to the citizens in the state of Indiana. I thought the crowd was a huge crowd."
After the Red for Ed Action Day Tuesday, some politicians, who may not always see eye to eye, agreed on that.
"I was really impressed by the event," Rep. Terry Goodin, (D) Austin, said. "I thought it was a real show of force by the educators that showed up and all their families and friends. I hope and think it will make a statement."
Teachers were hoping to send a message about three key issues.
Grooms said he agrees with one of their policy positions.
"We're not going to hold you responsible for that test," Grooms said. "We've agreed to that and we will make that, I'm assuming we'll make that official, in legislation in 2020."
Grooms said teachers shouldn't be afraid their pay could take a hit after what some call a low first year of ILEARN test scores. He added that, in context, he thinks the scores were on par with other results across the country.
As to demands for higher education funding and pay, another policy ask made by demonstrators Tuesday, Grooms echoed Governor Eric Holcomb saying that’s already in the works.
"We have done our share of allowing the peoples money, the taxpayers dollars, the taxpayers money, to be used fairly and making those adjustments and increases," Grooms said.
Holcomb Tuesday stated the following:
“Today is a great opportunity for educators, families and community members to express their voice at the people’s house. I remain committed to finding long-term sustainable solutions to increase teacher compensation. That’s why I created the Next Level Teacher Compensation Commission and signed our recent two-year budget that included historic levels of increased funding for K-12. As we continue to seek systemic improvements, it’s essential we retain and attract great teachers to ensure Hoosier students receive the best education our state can offer.”
Grooms weighed in with similar arguments.
“$763 million over a two year budget period for additional tuition support and grant money to go directly to tuition support, which our intention is that be used for teacher salaries,” Grooms said.
Not all agree with how the 'historic' increased funding has been framed, saying teachers are still hurting.
"If you go back and look historically, every single budget, there's been more money spent on education, since the history of Indiana," Goodin said. "So, every year it increases. That's just the national progression."
Grooms said, over the next three years, Greater Clark County Schools will see a $1 million increase per year for three years.
He said New Albany–Floyd County Schools will see a $5 million increase in three years.
The third issue scribbled on signs during the day of action was an externship policy that requires teachers to learn about other industries to stay licensed.
Some protestors said its an unfunded mandate that's making their job tougher with little benefit, and costing them money.
"Educators have a servants heart," Goodin said. "They work with whatever is given to them. So, they have made things work in the last decade where they've really been mistreated."
Grooms said the policy shouldn’t be costing teachers because they could complete it during their work day at school.