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Lawmakers leaving teachers out of the 'teacher pay' conversation

Teacher pay is a big topic in the Indiana Statehouse this winter, but it’s not new.

For years schools paid teachers based upon experience and education level. That changed in the Governor Daniels years, when the General Assembly changed how teachers were evaluated and paid. Educators were not consulted.

The intent was to have a system by which teachers would be divided into performance categories that would allow for easier teacher dismissal, with the implicit idea that school leaders were eager to reduce the number of teachers, which, somehow, is a problem.

But many school boards and administrators kept the teachers they hired. In those days there were about one million students in Indiana schools, and we were already short on teachers.

So the legislature kept changing it, year after year, working to keep the pressure to reduce the number of teachers in the state, even as the number of students grew (1.2 million students are now enrolled in Indiana schools.)

Then, two years ago, in an effort driven to reduce the amount of money available for teacher raises, the General Assembly forced schools to totally change how they budgeted. Educators were not consulted.

But we adapted, and it became effective on January 1st, 2019.

Six days later, January 7th, the Governor and Legislature decided that it wasn’t going to work the way they want it, and introduced bills to change it.

Six days.

Educators were not consulted.

Now there is a new bill, to amend that last bill, to put schools on a “naughty list” if they move more than 15 percent of their money from one of the new funds to another one of the new funds, even though it is perfectly legal, and was specifically designed by the legislature to do just that, and was the plan for two years until this month. Educators were not consulted.

Recently the governor also proposed to putting $140 million into teacher pensions on behalf of the school corporations, and taking away the Teacher Appreciation Grant (making it into a tax credit for teachers who buy their own supplies) and stating these, and other changes, “would result in $572 million new dollars schools over the biennium.” Or about $238 per student per year. Educators were not consulted.

Now the Indiana Speaker of the House is on the record that he believes raises for teachers should be paid for by cutting out non-teacher support staff (you know ,“non-instructional overhead”). Educators were not consulted.

And now Senator “Chip” Perfect recently attempted to basically remove every single component of child and student labor laws (SB342 – sadly, it’s already made national news.)

Needless to say – educators were not consulted. Yet we’re the problem?

Eric L. Creviston is superintendent of Blue River Valley School Corporation.