ISTA Wants Better Teacher Pay Approved In 2019

The state's largest teachers union wants state lawmakers to mark more dollars for teacher salaries.

(Indianapolis, Ind.) - The leader of Indiana’s largest teachers union says there does not need to be a study to determine what is already known - that teachers in the state are underpaid.

Indiana State Teachers Association president Teresa Meredith says teachers have waited long enough.

“We need strong public schools, so every child has the chance to learn and succeed regardless of where they live or how much money their parents make,” said Meredith.

“This means we need to pay competitive wages to attract and retain high quality teachers. But right now, teacher salaries in Indiana are much lower than nearby states, and experienced teachers are leaving for better opportunities.”

Meredith and the ISTA are critical of Governor Eric Holcomb’s stance that a pay increase for teachers should be studied over the next two years with a significant boost not included until the 2021 budget. Holcomb said Wednesday his stance on teacher pay was “mischaracterized” and he called for short- and long-term approaches to the issue.

But raising teacher pay may be a hard sell in the 2019 session. Lawmakers are focused on directing more funding to the troubled Indiana Department of Child Services.

The teachers association’s 2019 legislative priorities call on lawmakers to find creative solutions for raising teacher pay. Indiana teacher salaries are last within the Midwest, according to the association. Their stance is that more money needs to be spent on classroom instruction and student achievement rather than administration.

The ISTA commissioned a poll which found 72 percent of Hoosiers believe teachers are underpaid. Eighty-six percent of those polled support increase public school funding when it comes with a requirement to spend more of it in the classroom.

According to the National Education Association, Indiana ranked 26th out of the 50 states for teacher pay in 2017, with the average salary at $54,308. That's well below the national average of $59,660.

Also in the teachers association’s legislative priorities are restoring collective bargaining, improving school safety, providing cost-of-living adjustments for retired teachers, and policies that would make charter and virtual schools more accountable.

Indiana State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick, a Republican, tweeted last week in support of better pay for educators.

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