Indiana legislators missed an opportunity to lift up teachers this session. (Getty Images)
Every Hoosier kid, from Michigan City to Marion and south to Madison deserves caring, qualified and committed educators. And every educator needs the support and resources to inspire imagination, curiosity and a love of learning, as well as to provide the skills students need to thrive and pursue the jobs and careers they want.
However, as demonstrated by the 2023 session of the Indiana General Assembly, the Republican supermajority is more concerned with creating problems rather than solving them.
If we are not able to attract and retain teachers and education support professionals because of low pay, lack of respect and inadequate funding, it’s the students who lose out.
Too many students are in schools where decision-makers have driven away quality educators by failing to provide competitive salaries and support, disrespecting the profession and placing extraordinary pressure on individual educators to do more and more with less and less.
Additionally, too many potential educators never go into the classroom in part because of appallingly low starting salaries and record wage gaps between teaching and professions that require similar education – gaps that get worse over the course of educators’ careers.
So, what did our elected leaders do to solve these problems?
- They silenced teachers by eliminating a 50-year right to discuss students’ learning conditions with school administrators.
- They threatened educators with a level-six felony and two-and-a-half years in jail if they recommend certain books to kids.
- They trampled on the ability for local schools and educators to work collaboratively with parents addressing individual students’ mental health needs.
- They continued to drain public schools of scarce funding by siphoning a billion dollars to wealthy Hoosiers so their kids can attend private school for free.
Instead of addressing Indiana’s educator shortage crisis with positive solutions, Republican lawmakers ignored recommendations from educators and parents and focused on appeasing an extreme agenda designed to wage a culture war on public schools using misinformation and lies. They listened to wealthy corporate donors who gave their campaigns hundreds of thousands of dollars to privatize our schools.
This agenda may benefit their political donors, but it hurts local communities which cherish and rely on their local schools – where 90% of Hoosier kids attend. Our public schools should be what brings us together, not what divides us.
The current trajectory is deeply concerning. A strong public education system is vital for Indiana to have an engaged citizenry and workforce prepared for future industries that aren’t reliant on manufacturing. Without a vibrant, well-funded public education system, our state’s economic future is at risk.
Educators will not stop fighting for our profession, our schools and our kids. We will not stand idly by as our union, our teachers and our public schools come under attack. We believe that a strong union and strong public schools are vital for the success of our students, our communities and our state. We are committed to standing up against any attempts to weaken or dismantle our public schools.
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