Teacher groups and policymakers want more people to see teaching as a serious profession, and say increasing pay is part of the equation. And while lawmakers are working to address a host of teacher-focused issues, they also say a number of unknowns remain.
Lawmakers have a few proposals to elevate educators on the table, but House Education Committee Chair Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis) says the state needs more information about salaries for different teachers and staff. Especially since the data that is available, shows schools are spending more on costs outside of the classroom.
“We really are still struggling to figure out exactly where we are,” he says. “When you look at average teacher salaries, you’re talking about average across all age groups and we really need … to get a better grasp on what that data is."
House Bill 1003 would require more data collection and transparency for school spending on different employees, including teachers. It would also push districts to budget more of their money for “education costs” like teacher pay, but was met with pushback from school superintendents and officials at an initial hearing.
Lawmakers have made a few changes to the bill, but denied a change that would have required additional data for charter and voucher schools.
Pay isn’t the only issue on educators’ minds though, and advocates have said they’re pleased with legislation aimed at supporting more educators in the classroom.
Indiana State Teachers Association (ISTA) executive director Dan Holub says efforts to get new teachers more experience in schools are a step in the right direction.
“Oftentimes they come into situations that they are not frankly prepared for by college prep programs in the state,” he says.
ISTA, Teach Plus and Stand For Children Indiana have all advocated for measures to elevate the profession of teaching, like creating more career advancement opportunities that allow teachers to remain in the classroom instead of pursuing jobs in school administration.
But educators and public school advocates are still pushing lawmakers to allocate more funding to schools as they craft the state’s two year budget. Even then, some districts may not see a significant boost due to Indiana’s school funding formula where money follows the student.
ISTA recently announced a day of action for members to rally at the statehouse in March to call for better teacher pay and school funding. Lawmakers in the House are scheduled to vote on HB 1003 in the next week.