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Muncie community responds to Red for Ed

A Ball State student holds a signs at the Red for Ed walk out on campus that says "we support Red for Ed."
A Ball State student holds a signs at the Red for Ed walk out on campus that says "we support Red for Ed."

MUNCIE, Ind. (NewsLink) — The Red for Ed teacher rally happened today at the state house in Indianapolis. While hundreds of schools closed across the state, Muncie Community Schools remained open.

"Many families shared with us that it’s hard for them to find places for their children to go and be safe, and so we made the decision do stay open,” said Lee Ann Kwaiatkowski, director of public education and CEO of the Muncie Community School system. 

Keeping the Muncie Schools open was not an easy task, Dr. Kwaiatkowski reflected on the support of the community that allowed the school system to keep its doors open, saying, “We are finding all sorts of coverage for classrooms. Between calling in our substitute teachers, bringing in Ball State student teachers to cover classes on their own, speech teachers, occupational therapists, even our director of transportation is covering a gym class to teach line dancing.”

Families in the Muncie community expressed a desire for fewer e-learning days the last time the Muncie School System released students for a day. Many parents found it difficult to find child-care, and for the 70% of students on the free or reduced lunch plan oftentimes missing a day of school came at the cost of a meal.

“This year we’re universal, so all students are receiving free meals. We serve a lot of breakfasts and a lot of lunches for students. So, days that we’re not in session are also days that students don’t have those meals prepared for them,” said Dr. Kwaiatkowski.

The Muncie School System worked to find a balance, in fulfilling the needs of the community while supporting teachers. But for some, that wasn’t enough. Ball State students took a different approach to Red for Ed, with the Educators for Equity and Justice hosting a walk out for students intending to become educators in the future.

When asked about the Muncie Community School system’s response to Red for Ed, Alison Schwartz—one of the students who organized Ball State’s Red for Ed walkout—expressed disappointment. 

“It was definitely something that was on our minds and on our hearts,” Schwartz said. 

But that did not dull the passion felt by students who chose to walk out this morning. Grace Pieczymscki expressed her gratitude for the event. 

“I think it’s great that Ball State has events like this, and I think it’s really great to have these kinds of things where you can feel the energy and the passion that the teachers that are training here really have,” Pieczymscki said. 

With all of the excitement of today’s rally, Schwartz had a message for those looking to make a difference, “It doesn’t end today. It keeps going. Keep standing with your teachers, talking with families and students about what they need. That’s how it starts.”

For questions or concerns about this story, contact the author at aesterle@bsu.edu.