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IDOE: Teacher Shortage Areas Undermine State Education Priorities

Jennifer McCormick

Jennifer McCormick is the head of the Indiana Department of Education as the last elected Superintendent of Public Instruction. (Jeanie Lindsay)

The Indiana Department of Education says Indiana’s teacher shortage is counterproductive to its priorities.

Indiana submits a list of subject areas seeing significant teacher shortages to the U.S. Department of Education each year, and this year’s list includes science and career-technical education classes – both subjects many Indiana policymakers and elected officials want more funding and support for.

The list also includes early childhood education, languages, and fine arts.

IDOE spokesperson Adam Baker, says the department gathers some information by working with districts, and says rural schools made a point to include fine arts as a major shortage area.

“Granted, maybe those aren’t as critical when we talk about about STEM and CTE, but they’re just as important,” he says. “And so if anything, for us as a department, it was interesting.”

Baker says with teacher pay conversations ongoing, it was important for more people to understand the role compensation plays in keeping educators. He says about one-third of Indiana’s new teachers leave within the first five years, largely because of low pay.

“One of the things we’ve talked about for some time is teacher pay, and some of the things driving shortages are these areas,” he says.

In a statement Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick said Indiana has become too closely tied with the term “teacher shortage.”

“For nearly a decade we have struggled to find educators to fill even the frequently offered classroom subjects,” she said. “This also highlights the greater issue that Indiana’s educators deserve better pay and more practitioner-inclusive legislation in order to attract and retain them.”

Lawmakers plan to wrap up the legislative session – and the state’s next two year budget – by Thursday night.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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