Letter: Proposal would make teacher shortage worse

To the editor:

For years, local teachers and school administrators have worked together to best serve our students. If House Bill 1004 passes — the controversial bill purporting to solve Indiana’s teacher shortage — it will only worsen the shortage, thereby making it harder to ensure kids in Jennings County have a caring and qualified teacher in every classroom.

HB 1004 allows school administrators to unilaterally offer extra pay to a teacher in what they determine to be a difficult-to-fill position. This would upend the delicate balance of Indiana’s long-standing process for teacher compensation. Likewise, this would compound complications for many superintendents struggling to retain current staff by enticing some teachers away for a few dollars more.

In school districts throughout the state, both administrators and teachers have come together to solve these kinds of local problems. HB 1004 dissolves those partnerships.

If we start cherry-picking certain teachers to pay more, the majority of other teachers will be paid less. Schools get one pot of money to pay teachers. To pay one teacher more means another earns less. This would make the majority of teaching jobs less desirable and, no doubt, further exacerbate the teacher shortage and harm students.

If legislators’ intents are to help teachers, they should make them part of the conversation. An attempt to solve a problem by knowingly creating multiple additional problems is no solution.

We urge residents of Jennings County to join local teachers and contact state Sens. Chip Perfect and Greg Walker and tell them to oppose HB 1004.

Amber Asche and Julian Smith

Co-presidents, Jennings County Classroom Teachers Association