opinion

COLUMN: Teacher salaries must raise to avoid unrest



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Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb discussed his plan for raising teacher salaries in Indiana, but it means that tax rates would increase for Hoosiers. This issue accumulated attention due to recent events across the nation.

Recent unrest by teachers around the nation support the notion that Indiana needs to take action before this issue affects the state.

According to an RTV6 Indianapolis article, Indiana teachers start out on just over $35,000 a year, making the state 26th in the lowest to highest salaries, Montana coming in at first, with $30,036 a year.

This information does not disclose how long a teacher must maintain the position to earn over the certain benchmarks, nor does it ensure that they will reach them.

This raises the concern of whether teachers will ever meet an appropriate salary, and how long it will take before this need is met.

Meanwhile, a portion of these underpaid teachers pay for their own classroom supplies, especially in underfunded schools corporations.

Teachers and administrators need to be paid more and given proper budgets for their dedications to educating our growing minds. With the possibility of requiring teachers to either learn how to use a firearm or carry a firearm on their person, teacher salaries need to be addressed more than ever.

So far, teacher strikes have occurred in West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Colorado, Arizona and California. According to legislators and scholars in Indiana, teacher strikes are possible in the future, despite these protests being illegal in the state.

Kenneth Dau-Schmidt of the Maurer School of Law and Teresa Meredith, the president of the Indiana State Teachers Association, commented to the Chicago Tribune in 2018 on the teacher protests across the country, and how they can contribute to Indiana teachers eventually striking as well.

Dau-Schmidt said that if a teacher strike were to occur in Indiana, the state would not be able to do much about it, despite the illegality of those actions.

“All of those states where they have had strikes, it's also illegal. If conditions get bad enough in a workplace, they will do it, even though they might lose their jobs," he elaborated.

His statement also speaks to the idea of putting forth funding for school corporations, and things as simple as supplies and classroom conditions.

Like Holcomb's proposed raise for teacher salaries, this raise will barely dent the needs of Indiana schools and their educators.

Although Holcomb rightly prioritized issues that are prevalent in our nation's current climate, such as an attempt to pass a much-needed hate crime bill, Holcomb needs to next direct action toward increasing teacher salaries, and increasing funds for Indiana schools.

The most recent action that Holcomb has taken is appointing the Next Level Teacher Pay Commission to make recommendations for salaries. However, only one representative of this committee is in an educator position.

Although the governor is working on fixing this issue, it's ultimately up to lawmakers to support our educators. Indiana needs to buckle down and make a decision on this issue before teachers rally, and Hoosier children are left without proper education.

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