The fight to get Indiana teachers raises has created some unlikely bedfellows, with the state's teacher union, Republican leaders and education advocacy groups all joining forces as the issue gains prominence in the new legislative session, Chalkbeat reports.
During the ceremonial first day of the legislative session last week, it was announced that the three groups were working to guarantee that teacher raises are included in the state’s upcoming two-year budget, and Chalkbeat points out that the unity is unusual given the typical tension between the union and Republicans over school choice measures that would expand charter schools and private school vouchers.
The union has also historically had issues with some of the advocacy groups working on the raise initiative — Teach Plus and Stand for Children — over their support for charter schools and advocacy for more partnerships between charters and traditional school districts.
The push for teacher raises has been gaining steam nationally amid increased visibility around the issue. During the 2017-18 academic year, educators in Arizona, Colorado, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oklahoma and West Virginia all took part in strikes and protests around pay and professionalism.
The strikes saw gains, and also had broad public support. This summer, EdNext published survey results around walkout perceptions, showing that in the six states where strikes occurred last school year, 63% of respondents were for raises. This was a 16% jump in favor of raises from the year prior.
The disruption of teacher strikes can be very difficult for students, especially those who are struggling academically. Negotiations between state lawmakers and state educators — as seems to be the push in Indiana — can help solve this issue, making it a compromise between adults in conversations that don’t need to impact the students.
With true teacher pay dropping for years in many states, however, things were bound to hit a boiling point sooner or later. Pay and benefits have become especially important amid districts' struggles nationwide to recruit and retain high-quality educators.
In Indiana, for example, these pressures led the state’s school board to attempt to address the issue in 2014 by creating an adjunct/career specialist teacher license that required no teacher training. The program was widely blasted by ed groups over concerns about deprofessionalizing teaching and further undermining the field.