Public School Teachers: Indiana is Sorry

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public school teachersOn behalf of the state of Indiana (of which I actually have no authority,) I’d like to apologize to all public school teachers. Seriously, all of them. In Indiana, teachers and public eduction has yet to be a top priority. It seems like new mandates and bills are continuously being passed by people who have yet to step foot into a classroom. Are lawmakers actively trying to make teachers upset enough so they all leave mass exodus style? Because it seems like we are at the brink. The past two years have been nothing but one kick after another to all public educators, and you’d think at some point someone would shout, “enough is enough! Leave this profession alone!” 

Yet here we are. 

Teachers have bachelor degrees, master degrees and some even have doctorates. But then in Indiana, we like to pay them barely living salaries even with years of experience. Now throw in buying their own classroom school supplies and materials year after year. And in some areas, teachers aren’t even making enough to live in the city where they teach so they have to get a second job. 

Don’t be one of those people who like to say, “but they get the summers off!” Do they really? Sure, they get some daytime hours actually to spend with their own kids finally. But oftentimes they have to make ends meet with that second job, or they’re already preparing for the next school year, or they’ve been forced to switch grades, which means they’re learning an entirely new curriculum. Summers off isn’t actually a thing when you’re clocking in somewhere else just to make ends meet.  

A few years ago, Indiana quietly pushed through a professional license renewal requirement which required teachers to log 15 hours of professional development related specifically to their community’s workforce needs. Note that teachers are already required to complete 90 hours of professional development every five years as part of this renewal process. This includes attending conferences, taking online classes, seminars, professional development etc. So now we expect teachers at all grade levels to go out into the community and job shadow at a company to learn how the business operates and talk about the workforce in the classroom. 

And then COVID hit. Suddenly the world shut down, but parents still needed to work, and we expected the schools just to show up. We demanded that they adjust immediately and provide daycare, full-time school and some didn’t seem to care that teachers and support staff were at risk. We expected our teachers to do it and deal with it. 

And you know what? They did. 

These teachers adjusted and dropped everything online overnight with one night’s notice. They became masters of Zoom meetings, sent each kid home with extra library books and dropped off packets of worksheets if needed. Our teachers worked tirelessly for long hours and showed up for our kids every day. We often forget it would mean that they would work their normal full-time day, and then in the evening have to assist their own kids through their schoolwork too. Everyone praised teachers online and talked about how life cannot proceed without them.

And then one year later, Indiana put up a bill to filter more money away from public education in our state.

At what point do we collectively start treating our teachers like the crowned jewels they are? You have to be passionate about teaching to go into this profession and keep doing it for decades. Each grade level and content area presents its own unique challenges. I mean, the thought of commanding the attention of a room of 20 six-year-olds while cleaning up one who just had an accident. Or dealing with middle school hormones and confidence issues. Or high school students – overconfident, mouthy, entitled high schoolers who want to Tik Tok their way through the day. I have anxiety just thinking about it. But to someone else- that’s their passion. These teachers live for it. 

It’s time Indiana legislators stopped focusing on teachers in any other way than showing them the appreciation and gratitude they deserve. “To all teachers, THANK YOU for your tireless work every day, especially during the pandemic. We see you, we appreciate you, and here is a wage increase.” That’s what they should be saying instead. 

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Amy is the mom to three little girls- ages six and under. Born in small town Indiana, she has been a Hoosier her entire life and frequently threatens to change that- but probably never will. When not playing Barbies, she enjoys coffee, brunch, working out and silence- but the kind of silence that isn't followed by a disaster like a flooding sink or nail polish in the carpet. She speaks fluent sarcasm and can dig in to anything Pop Culture related.

24 COMMENTS

    • Someday Cathy! But for now I’m going to start getting more involved locally because this madness must stop!! Thanks for your words 🙂

    • I hate that you even have to cry!! But I promise you, there are passionate parents in each community ready to fight for our public schools. I’m one of them!!

    • Oh Mary. You’re just my favorite. Perhaps someday soon there will be something local here for me 😉 until then, I’ll fight for our public educators to get what they deserve- always!!!!

  1. Thank you Amy. To be clear teachers are not paid for their time off during the summer. They are paid for the months they actually work and are never paid for holidays off. Summer pay is just their monthly pay stretched to cover the summer months. You can choose to have that option or you can choose not to be paid over the summer so that your pay check is more during your time working. Thank you again for your thoughtful post !

    • I totally get it. I often gritted my teeth when someone would choose the lump sum option for summer “pay” because I can never quite budget like that 😂😂 teachers should be paid year round. I’d argue every single teacher has to put in work over the summer. It should be paid as such!!

    • THe option to have your contract paid off at the end of the school year is not available at some school corporations in IN. Pay delayed is not exactly pay denied but it feels like it.

    • I totally agree. BUT this last election should have given everyone a little more hope that there are some sane people out there. We aren’t just a red state anymore. We have pockets of blue. But truly a political party should have no bearing on the education system (I’m aware it does.. but it shouldn’t). Even politicians got educated somewhere 😉

  2. Thank you for this. I hope it reaches the people who need to read it. I have taught at the junior high level for 35 years, and can’t imagine doing anything else, but this new legislation that is waiting to go through terrifies me.

    • Thank you, Jackie for giving your life to public education. It’s just time for us as parents to stand up for the schools around us. We’re here and some of us are ready to be really loud 😁

  3. While I am sure teachers in Indiana say thank you why don’t we vote in some legislators who are pro-education? Lawmakers are trying to privatize the education system by defunding it and creating turmoil! Now it is not just in Indiana but Ohio and Kentucky too. We need teachers who give children the basics and then teach them to be problem-solvers for the collective good!

    • I agree!! I can tell you I’m ready to get a little louder this time around for the people who promise better for public education. Starting in my own community and stopping no further than the Governors desk.

  4. So many true statements, thank you so much for this. True, we don’t go into the building every day over the summer, but as many have already stated, we go to professional development workshops, plan for the next year.

    • Thanks Vicky for going into a teaching career! You’re all the real MVPs!! I’m the daughter of an administrator, the sister of a special Ed teacher. Summers off is not a real thing.

  5. Your words are appreciated, but as long as the people of Indiana continue to vote Republican – they are siding with the lawmakers who can boost their public approval overnight by getting voters angry about imaginary educational issues that don’t really exist. This blood is o. The voters hands just as much as the lawmakers they support.

    • I don’t disagree. I commented above- I have HOPE that people will start voting for a more sane place to live. Less about the party and more about the person. But I can promise you I’m going to be a whole lot louder this election- starting in my own community with school board elections and then chasing down state candidates who promise to protect and value our public schools.

  6. And now they are legislating that certain issues can not be addressed in schools. I am very worried for the future. We need to let teachers teach and pay them what they are worth. How can we band together and fix these issues?

  7. Amen. I taught for 25 years and loved my students and would do anything for them. Sadly, many people don’t know how heartbreaking it is to be paid such a low salary and constantly be judged and questioned after all you put in. To now see lawmakers want to make teachers have their lesson plans scrutinized for approval is just too much. The standards are public. You can see what is being taught. However, teaching is an art. Each teacher delivers in different ways and has students with different needs. To turn in a whole year ahead of time is not good for anyone. Teachers change their plans on a daily basis based on if students’ understandings. My own daughter is now teaching and I wonder how long she will be able to hold on with passion alone and not have that squelched.

  8. Thank you very much for this. I’m not only a teacher, but a mom to six daughters. I’ve come to realize that my girls “favorite” teachers are never the same. So thankful for a wide variety of teachers to meet the needs of my unique daughters.

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