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'Truly A Crisis:' Teachers Say Pay Only One Part Of Addressing State Shortage

Stand for Children Executive Director Justin Ohlemiller, reading instructor Danica Park, Tindley Summit Academy principal David McGuire, and IPS parent LaToya Tahirou helped present the report. (Jeanie Lindsay/IPB News)

A new report from a group of educators and advocates says the state needs to invest millions of dollars to fully address issues with teacher pay, and has recommended action they say is vital to reducing Indiana’s teacher shortage.

Lawmakers have touted teacher pay as one of the state’s top priorities this year, especially to get more of them in classrooms across Indiana.

The recent report from Teach Plus and Stand For Children Indiana says policymakers need to invest at least $535 million to make up for decreasing teacher pay over the past two decades. Indiana ranks last in average teacher pay among surrounding states Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, and Kentucky. According to the report, Indiana needs to invest at least $650 million to hit the median teacher pay for the region.

But educators and advocates for the profession of teaching say to solve the state’s shortage, pay is only one part of the equation. The report recommends that policymakers create more ways for teachers to advance their careers in classrooms, not as administrators.

Indianapolis Public Schools parent LaToya Tahirou says high turnover needs to change, because a stable classroom environment can have a major impact, including on her own children.

“Because education is a key that can be monumental in a child’s life," Tahirou says. "Coming from the neighborhood where I come from, education is a key to a better life.”

The report also recommends a year-long funded residency for new teachers.

Tindley Summit Academy Principal David McGuire says it’s critical to support teachers, because they can then offer more support to their students. But social and emotional supports for students are key to improving learning outcomes too.

“Regardless of the great teachers you have and the great curriculum, if they have situations at home that aren’t being addressed and aren’t being supported then those can impact their education as well,” he says.

There are legislative proposals related to all three recommendations moving through the General Assembly; the House approved legislation focused on teacher career ladders last week.

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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