Now’s the time to raise teacher pay in Indiana


(Anderson) Herald Bulletin

When citizens demand long-overdue solutions, reluctant government often offers a stonewall answer: We’ll study it.

Yes, sometimes there’s a need to gather more information, convene a panel, commission a survey, consult with experts, etc.

But sometimes there’s simply a need for action.

So it is with teacher pay in Indiana.

Everyone knows it: Hoosier teachers, by and large, are grossly underpaid when you consider the difficulty of their jobs and the importance of doing it right.

Teachers have a profound impact on upcoming generations. If they relate to the kids, know their subject matter and teach it effectively, it can mean the difference between a student excelling or dropping out. Society, in the long run, depends on the job done by our school teachers.

But our classroom leaders in Indiana are compensated poorly when compared to professionals in most other lines of work, and when compared to teachers in other states.

Indiana teachers start out behind, according to these average starting teacher salaries in 2016-17 from the National Education Association:

Nationwide: $38,617

Illinois: $38,820

Kentucky: $36,494

Michigan: $36,234

Ohio: $35,249

Indiana: $35,241

And Hoosier teachers fall further behind as their careers progress, according to these average teacher salaries in 2016-17 from the National Center for Education Statistics:

Nationwide: $58,064

Michigan: $62,000

Illinois: $61,602

Ohio: $57,000

Kentucky: $52,339

Indiana: $50,554

Gov. Eric Holcomb recently said the state would conduct a long-range study of Indiana teacher salaries before choosing a path to improve pay sometime as late as 2021.

Come on, Governor, is a two-year delay really necessary?

The governor and the state legislature should act in 2019 to bring Hoosier teacher pay to the head of the class in the Midwest.

Now is not the time for chart graphs, committees and ad nauseam discussion.

Now’s the time for Indiana to attract and retain the best teachers — and to provide our students with the best education.

It’s time for government to take action.

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