Indiana near bottom in teacher pay, school funding

The National Education Associated released its annual report on teacher salaries this week, and, once again, Indiana doesn’t look very good.

The average salary for an Indiana public school teacher in 2018-19 is $50,937, according to the report, compared with a national average of $61,730. In other findings:

  • Indiana ranked 36th among the 50 states and the District of Columbia for average teacher salary.
  • Adjusting for inflation, Indiana’s average teacher salary has declined by 12.7% in the past decade, the fourth-worst drop in the country after Washington, Michigan and Wisconsin.
  • Indiana was fifth from the bottom in reported public school expenditures per student at $8,496. That compares to a national average of $12,602.
  • Per-pupil spending declined by 2.6% in Indiana from the previous year, the worst drop in the country.

None of this is exactly surprising. It’s been widely reported that Indiana teacher salaries are lagging and the state has fallen behind on funding schools – according to analyses by Forbes Statistica, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, a University of Georgia professor and others.

State officials said raising teacher pay would be a priority in the legislative session that just ended, and lawmakers did manage to boost K-12 funding by 2.5% each of the next two years. Per-pupil funding will increase by 2.3% in the first year and 2% in the second year, barely enough to keep up with inflation.

Gov. Eric Holcomb, to his credit, has said that “we’re not there yet” on fixing teacher pay. He appointed a commission, made up mostly of business leaders, to recommend ways to boost salaries.

At the national level, the NEA report estimates the average U.S. teacher salary increased by 2.1% in 2018-19 – again, just keeping pace with increases in the cost of living. Over the past decade, it says, the average teacher salary has declined by 4.5% adjusted for inflation.

The report points to wide salary disparities by state, with average pay ranging from over $80,000 in New York, California and Massachusetts to below $48,000 in Mississippi, West Virginia and New Mexico.

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