Teacher pay tops union’s legislative agenda

Indiana educators watched quietly last spring as teachers in West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Arizona staged rallies, protests and even walkouts for higher pay. Look for that to change next month when the Indiana General Assembly convenes for its biennial budget-writing session.

The Indiana State Teachers Association released its 2019 legislative agenda Monday, and boosting teacher pay is at the top of its priority list.

Teresa Meredith

Teresa Meredith

“At the end of the day, it’s about compensation,” said ISTA President Teresa Meredith.

The teachers’ union bolstered its case with the release of a poll that found more than 80 percent of Hoosiers favor increased school funding if the bulk of the money goes to the classroom. Over 70 percent of poll respondents said schools are underfunded and teachers are underpaid.

Indiana schools haven’t caught up from funding cuts in the recession of the late 2000s, and teachers and students have borne the brunt of the penny-pinching. Average teacher salaries have declined 15 percent in the past 15 years after adjusting for inflation, according to a Vox analysis.

“Some teachers haven’t seen a meaningful pay increase in 10 years,” said Meredith, whose union represents teachers in most Indiana school districts.

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