EVANSVILLE - A group of Indiana teachers say they are under attack after lawmakers in Indianapolis advance controversial legislation.
Teachers tell Eyewitness News that this is not a single-issue problem but there are certain key pieces of legislation, they say, make them feel like political games are being played on the backs of Indiana students and those who teach them.
Keith Gambill, president of the Evansville Teachers Association says attacks against them are not new. "The cuts to education, the expansion of vouchers all go to drain important dollars from the work that we are doing in public education."
Tuesday, the House Education Committee voted 7 to 3 to advance legislation barring schools from deducting union dues from a teacher's paycheck.
"I find it to be just completely punitive that lawmakers just do not want the association to exist and, therefore, are going through any means in which they can restrict professionals from being part of their professional association," says Gambill.
But republicans, including the bill's author, representative Jeff Thompson of Lizton say union dues go to pay for, in part, political action committees. Supporters of the amendment say the government shouldn't help run the political side.
But Gambill sees it much differently.
"Members have to choose to be part of the political action committee. Their dues dollars are not spent on any contributions to political action."
Union dues aren't the only reason some Hoosier teachers feel targeted. In 2011, teachers were up in arms over a decision to strictly limit their collective bargaining rights. Then last year, teachers were among the union members gathered at the State House, for a second year, for the right-to-work protests.
Gambill explains, "Certainly, with the loss of some of our collective bargaining rights two years ago that was a direct attack on teachers."
Educators like Gambill say political games are being played with the state's education system and lawmakers should concentrate on things that help schools and students. He says this latest move does neither.
"Everything from the House Education committee has been directly related to the adults in those buildings and this action is certainly directed that way."
Teachers are also concerned about recent actions taken against democratic state superintendent Glenda Ritz that greatly limits her oversight by taking power from her and putting it in the hands of governor Pence's office.
We reached out to several House republicans for comment. None accepted the invitation to discuss this.