Schools leader: Indiana ‘in desperate need of a lot of teachers’

Indiana News

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana is in the middle of a teacher shortage.

As many students across the state returned to school, the Indiana Department of Education School Personnel Job Bank on Tuesday showed more than 600 available teacher positions.

“We’re in a teacher shortage. We’re in an administrator shortage. We’re in an educator shortage,” said Jennifer McCormick, the state superintendent of public instruction, on Tuesday. “We’re also in a bus driver shortage. We’re in a school cafeteria worker shortage. The list goes on.”

“A lot of it goes back to pay,” McCormick said. “We can tip-toe around the issue, but a lot of it, when you have unemployment this low across the state of Indiana and across the nation, it goes back to pay.”

McCormick said 3,500 teachers were on emergency teaching permits in 2018. The Department of Education’s website says, “An Emergency Permit is issued at the request of a school district in a content area for which the district is experiencing difficulty staffing the assignment with a properly licensed educator.”

“We’re in desperate need of a lot of teachers,” McCormick said.

She said teacher benefits and retirement benefits are usually competitive. “It’s just that salary piece that becomes the issue,” she said.

The National Education Association said Indiana’s average starting teacher salary is almost $36,000 annually while the average paycheck bumps up to over $50,000 statewide.

The teacher starting salary at Indianapolis Public Schools is $42,587, and the district looks online for new talent. Teacher pay is something IPS has worked on over the last couple years “to try and make sure that we have a competitive starting salary for teachers,” said Alex Moseman, the senior coordinator of talent acquisition at IPS. “We’re in the top starting salaries (for schools) across the city.”

The state’s largest school district, IPS has 61 open teacher positions and is about 97% staffed.

“We certainly do a lot of work to figure out how we can provide pathways for folks to get into the classroom. But, we also recognize there’s a lot of work to be done making sure we have a robust talent pool that is strong and diverse for our students,” Moseman said.

Statement

The Indiana State Teachers Association issued a statement after this story aired on News 8 at 5 and 6.

“There are multiple reasons Indiana is experiencing a teacher shortage but two rise to the top – pay and respect.

“Indiana ranks last in the nation in salary growth over the last 10 years, forcing many teachers to seek other careers that offer more professional respect and income. Also, top-down, so-called reforms, have prioritized standardized tests over the professional judgement of teachers.

“Every Hoosier kid deserves a caring and qualified teacher in their classroom and as a state we must do better to ensure we meet that commitment – starting with paying them as professionals.”

Keith Gambill, Indiana State Teachers Association president

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