Melton And McCormick Listening Tour: Teachers Say They Feel Disrespected

Aug 15, 2019

Hoosier teachers are telling lawmakers they feel disrespected after last session’s discussion on teacher pay.  And as Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Stephanie Wiechmann reports, the state schools chief says that’s evident in the amount of teachers leaving the job.

Pat Kennedy leads the Muncie Teachers Association.  She says when she began teaching, it was a career to last your whole professional life.  Now she says mentoring young teachers has changed.

“You know, I’ve said, ‘Well, you only have 45 years to go until you can retire.’  They go, “Uh uh, uh uh.  I’m not going to be here but a few years.’”

Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick is touring the state with state Senator Eddie Melton (D-Gary).  She says state data agrees.  She says 35 percent of teachers now leave before their fifth year.  Teachers leaving districts mid-semester is up significantly.  So are emergency licenses – issued for those not formally educated in what they’re teaching.

“I know this year, we still have 600 openings.  That is a direct reflection about pay.  It’s a direct reflection about respect for the profession, the autonomy that we are provided and not provided.  That’s about who we are.  We are who we vote for.”

Read More: Teacher Pay Commission Chairman: Recommendations Won’t Be ‘One Size Fits All’

Melton says there’s “nothing left to study” with teacher pay.  During his listening session in Muncie, he stressed the need for Indiana to increase all public school funding, possibly utilizing the state’s multi-billion dollar surplus.

“At the end of the day, if we don’t offer any new money into the budget, into funding, then we’re not making any advancements.  It has to be new dollars.”

Melton has formed an exploratory committee to consider a run for governor, but has not announced a formal candidacy.