The state's largest teachers union is calling on Indiana lawmakers to fully fund schools and provide educators with more bargaining power during the upcoming legislative session. The union is also calling for the state to do more to address teacher compensation.
Lawmakers start crafting the state's next two-year budget in January, and more than half of it goes to education.
Policymakers are preparing for the upcoming session this week, and the Indiana State Teachers Association is sending a message: don't cut school funding, raise teacher pay and expand teachers' bargaining rights.
The call to action comes as teachers continue grappling with the weight of the pandemic. Indianapolis science teacher Jack Hesser said teachers have been working long, unpaid hours – even more during the pandemic – when they shouldn't have to.
"It goes way beyond teacher pay or respect for the profession – it's scapegoating teachers to fix things society and government is responsible for and is failing," he said.
In a union-conducted survey this fall, 71 percent of teachers said they've considered leaving the profession or retiring early because of increased workload demands.
Gov. Eric Holcomb – who recently won re-election – has previously said the state needs more data on teacher compensation, appointing a commission to study the issue and make recommendations to lawmakers ahead of the 2021 session.