Schools across Indiana will likely soon lose millions of dollars dedicated to teacher training and professional development.
“It’s a huge deal,” says Sandi Cole, director of the Center on Education and Lifelong Learning at Indiana University. “It goes totally against the desire to improve student learning because you can’t improve student learning without improving teachers’ craft.”
In 2016, Indiana schools received about $36 million in Title II, Part A funds known as the Supporting Effective Instruction grant program. That grant program is the third-largest federal K-12 program in the country.
Cole has studied the effectiveness of teacher evaluations and teacher preparation programs. She says despite the federal program’s size, teacher professional development is often “shortchanged.”
“I am very weary with trying to tell schools to do more with less,” Cole says. “That’s what we’re going to be saying again. It continues to be unfair.”
The federal funds provide continuous, ongoing training that help teachers prepare to instruct students. Most districts receive some funding, with high-poverty and large districts receiving larger amounts.
“Those districts really do need those dollars to support and to retain teachers,” Cole says.
The exact amount of teacher training money cuts remains unclear.
Under a new federal education law, overall federal funds dedicated to teacher and principal training and recruiting would decrease up to 15 percent. That law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, modifies the formula for which states receive those dollars.
An Indiana Department of Education document tells schools to prepare for a national cut of 13 percent to such funds.
“The [districts] who have seen an enrollment shift in the past sixteen years may see further impacts to their allocations,” IDOE writes.
But further changes could be afoot. Under President Donald Trump’s proposed budget, all Title II, Part A teacher training funds would be eliminated. Alongside critics, officials have argued that teacher prep programs have little impact.
The elimination of teacher training dollars is among the president’s sweeping $9 billion cut to federal education programs.
Keith Gambill, vice president of the Indiana State Teachers Association, says the elimination of federal dollars would hit Indiana particularly hard.
“Since 2001, Indiana has cut state funding that was used to assist in professional development of teachers,” Gambill says. “With those federal moneys taken away, you’d really pass the burden on to local school districts with no mechanism to be able to pay to help teachers improve and move their students forward.”