Indiana teachers’ association calls for more bargaining power

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indiana State Teachers Association (ISTA) has called for more bargaining power for Hoosier teachers, including on things such as pay raises, class sizes and preparation time for curriculum.

“We’re seeing increases in teachers with depression, anxiety, sleeping difficulties and work-life imbalance,” said Jenny Whitaker, a teacher at Warren Central High School.

During the ISTA press conference, teachers highlighted their concerns with handling the increasing workloads that have stemmed from the pandemic and staffing shortages.

“We have teachers working 12-hour days or longer on top of second and sometimes even third jobs,” said ISTA President Keith Gambill.

Gambill pointed out that 97% of schools in Indiana are reporting teacher shortages, according to a recent study by Indiana University.

The ISTA says one way to help the issue is to raise pay for teachers. The group is calling on political leaders to require that teacher pay start at $40,000.

For places like Pike Township, they say they already do that. But currently, no deal has been reached between the district and the ISTA on pay raises.

“Someone that just got hired is paid $1,000 less than me, so I make $41 a paycheck more than a first-year teacher and I’ve been there for 12 years,” says Brad Leatherman, a Pike physical education teacher.

In a statement to I-Team 8, the district said: “We are currently waiting on information from the IEERB (Indiana Employment Education Relations Board).” 

The ISTA pointed out the number of districts meeting the goal of $40,000 for starting teachers went from 79 to 212 as of Friday.