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Why Indiana Schools Are Struggling to Fill Teaching Jobs

Many teachers retired early during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, and teacher salaries in Indiana are lower than in neighboring states.

INDIANAPOLIS — It’s no secret that this school year has presented a challenge for school districts across Indiana to staff their classrooms.

Indiana State Teachers Association President Keith Gambill pointed out that not only are teachers in short supply, but so are support staff, custodial staff and bus drivers.

“When there aren’t enough bus drivers, they have to change the schedule to have those drivers make extra trips, which impacts all the other employees,” Gambill said.

Gambill listed a few reasons why schools are experiencing teacher shortages. On the one hand, more teachers decided to retire a few years early at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

Additionally, Gambill said the state failed to address concerns when ISTA noticed fewer high school students were going to college to study education.

“You combine that with the lack of respect we receive, especially from our legislators, and the rhetoric around the work we do,” Gambill said, “in addition to not being able to maintain an appropriate salary for the job. one of our job categories.”

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Indiana recently initiated wage increases, according to Gambill, but the state was already lagging behind neighboring states when it made its last investment two years ago.

Executives say Indiana is still losing ground as the Hoosiers kick off the 2022-23 school year.

“As Indiana’s wages have gone up, our area’s wages have gone up as well, which just creates an extra layer of problems,” Gambill said.

In addition to salary concerns, inflation is also hitting the pockets of teachers.

“We are not immune to these rising costs,” Gambill said.

With the rising cost of school supplies, teachers are also spending more of their own money to stock their rooms.

“I think most Hoosiers would be shocked if they had to walk into a classroom and then ask the teacher to remove anything they personally purchased,” Gambill said. “I think they’d be shocked at how many teachers are bringing into the classroom that isn’t provided by the school district.”

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With increased demand and unequal salaries, many Indiana teachers quit, including a young teacher who worked in Blackford County.

She asked to remain anonymous when she told 13News that she was inspired to be a teacher because of her own teachers.

She said she was the best in contact with middle schoolers during her time as a teacher.

“I really liked the middle schoolers because I feel like you deepened your conversations,” said she, who started her career in 2019. “At first it was really, really exciting for me. I taught three quarters of a ‘normal’ school year.”

Even before the pandemic hit, however, she felt immense pressure to perform, including working long hours outside of the normal work day.

“For me, I brought a lot of that home,” she said. “I was doing a lot of housework. You could work 24 hours a day if you wanted to. The salary you get isn’t worth it.”

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She eventually decided she needed to pursue a different role in schools before finally leaving in 2022 after the birth of her son.

“I don’t want to keep bringing this home when I have kids at home,” she said. “I want to be able to spend my evenings with them.”

“A troubling factor we’ve seen over the past few years is the number of people who have chosen to simply resign,” Gambill said.

Gambill added that resignations don’t always happen at the end of a term. They can occur weeks before the start of the new school year.

How you can help

According to Gambill, there are a few steps the Hoosiers can take to help support Indiana educators.

First, be prepared to volunteer at your school to help relieve some of the pressure on staff members.

Second, if you can, sign up to become a substitute teacher. Even one day a week can make a big difference.

Finally, Gambill encourages all Hoosiers to elevate the teaching profession to inspire more young people to enter the field.

“By doing so, we will be able to attract more of our students who are in high school and encourage them to pursue an education and encourage them into the college system so that they stay in Indiana and stay in education,” Gambill said. .

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