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MCCSC Fills All Teaching Positions, But Indiana Teachers Face Low National Salaries and Public Criticism

Indiana schools face a severe teacher shortage as the 2022-23 school year begins.

There are 1,572 open teaching positions statewide as of Thursday, along with an additional 1,174 vacancies for school principals, office staff or student support staff, according to the bank. Indiana Department of Education jobs.

The Monroe County Community School Corporation is doing better than other districts – however, it is feeling the impact of the shortage of educators as it continues to seek teaching aides, paraprofessionals and visiting teachers.

The MCCSC managed to fill all teaching positions, but had 15 unfilled teaching positions as of July 25. Erin Stalbaum, assistant superintendent of professional learning and certified human resources, said the district held a summer job fair to attract candidates.

“Our job fair in July was successful in helping us identify people for certain positions, and we had employment documents signed on the spot,” Stalbaum said.

MCCSC Superintendent Jeff Hauswald said the district’s proximity to IU and an above-average salary helped MCCSC attract qualified teachers even as the pool of applicants dwindled.

“MCCSC continues to see qualified candidates applying for most of our positions,” Hauswald said. “We value the close partnership with Indiana University School of Education, as well as our competitive salaries.”

In the 2021-22 school year, salaries for MCCSC teachers ranged from $43,250 to $80,125, according to the 2021-23 Monroe County Education Association ratified collective bargaining agreement.

There will be an MCCSC referendum on Monroe County voter ballots in 2022, allowing citizens to vote on whether they want to raise property taxes to supplement school funding. If the November referendum passes, each MCCSC teacher will receive an annual raise of $4,500. Additionally, support staff such as teacher assistants will earn an additional $2.25 per hour.

Although MCCSC pay remains competitive within the state, Indiana pays teachers considerably less than neighboring states, according to the National Education Association. Indiana’s average teacher salary in the 2020-2021 school year was $53,072. Illinois paid teachers an average of $70,705 in the 2020-21 school year, while Michigan paid teachers an average of $64,262.

Indiana’s average salary leaves the state 41st in the nation for teacher compensation. Additionally, Indiana ranked 51st, or dead last, out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia in teacher salary growth between 2002 and 2017, according to the Rockefeller Institute.

[Related: IU School of Education works to combat Indiana teacher shortage, ‘Great Resignation’]

Sandi Cole, director of the IU Center on Education and Lifelong Learning and a former public school teacher, said the pandemic was making the work of educators harder and prompting many to demand better pay.

“Educators have said in the past, ‘I don’t work for money. I love children. I love the profession,” Cole said. “But the reality is that through the pandemic, more and more teachers are realizing that they can’t do it on the current pay scale.”

However, Cole said salary isn’t the only factor contributing to the teacher shortage. Heightened hostility toward teachers, both from parents and politicians, is driving teachers to quit, Cole said.

Indiana House Bill 1134, introduced in the state’s 2022 legislative session, did not pass but would have required teachers to post their lesson plans a year in advance, as well to prohibit educators from teaching “divisive concepts”. Indiana House Bill 1130, which passed in the state’s 2022 legislative session, requires school boards to allow public comment at meetings.

Cole said she wanted people to know that teachers don’t quit because it’s hard to care for kids, they quit because it’s hard to care for parents.

“It’s not the children. Teachers have a passion for children and historically we have understood how to teach all kinds of children who come into the classroom,” Cole said. “It’s not about bad kids. It’s about the lack of support our legislature and our parents have for teachers to really help kids learn.”

Paul Farmer, president of the Monroe County Education Association, said burnout, lack of legislative support and low salaries in Indiana have led to a teacher shortage for decades. Now that this is happening, Farmer fears the issue will take even longer to resolve.

“We’ve been predicting for two decades that we’re going to have a teacher shortage and now we’re starting to feel it,” Farmer said. “We didn’t get here overnight and it’s not going to go away overnight.”

Farmer said a raise is essential, but burnout can only be solved by changing public perception of the profession and encouraging community support.

“We have to find a way to make the work itself more sustainable, or at least viable,” Farmer said. “We need to make the profession more desirable in the eyes of the public. You go online and see people saying that public school teachers teach racism, they teach woke culture, they teach our students who knows what. This rhetoric must be stopped. This is absurd.”

[Related: Controversial education bill still being considered in Indiana House]

But MCCSC fared better than other districts throughout the teacher shortage, thanks in part to outstanding community support, Farmer said. Farmer, a permanent resident of Bloomington and an MCCSC teacher for 34 years, said MCCSC attracts teachers even when there is a shortage because the county values ​​its educators.

“Our community is so phenomenally supportive of our public schools,” Farmer said. “I just think our community is one of the best out there, and if we’re struggling to get teachers here in Bloomington with all this awesome support, imagine what that does to those other communities that don’t have the support we have.”

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