THE INDIANA PLAN
Indiana provides a lesson on how to destroy the teaching profession.
Beginning in 2011 the state legislature, with the help of then State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Bennett, and then Governor Mitch Daniels, initiated a number of school “reforms” guaranteed to damage public education and public school educators. Their reasoning was two-fold.
- Public education received large amounts of tax money which could be used for profit by friends, investors, and colleagues. Privatization of the public sector was and is a goal of Republican politicians.
- The Indiana State Teachers Association generally supports Democratic candidates for state offices because Democrats (usually) support public education.
In order to damage public education and speed up privatization, denigrate public school educators, and bust the teachers union, the following effort has been made by the Republican dominated state government since 2011.
- Collective bargaining rights for teachers have been restricted. No longer can discussions of things like working conditions, class size, grievance procedures, and evaluation processes be required at the bargaining table.
- School districts and teachers cannot agree to a contract which lasts longer than the state’s budget biennium. Extended contract lengths are no longer allowed which means that schools and their teachers must meet more often whether they want to or not. Clearly, this has an impact on school systems, not just teachers unions. A bargained contract is an agreement between TWO parties.
- The state began what is now the largest private/parochial school voucher program in the nation, which, along with increased funding for privately owned and operated charter schools, has drained millions of dollars from public school funding.
- The state – with the help of the voters – passed a property tax cap amendment to the constitution, and shifted state funding of public education to the state legislature. Some schools systems (notably Gary and Muncie which are now in serious financial difficulty) lost up to 10% of their funding when the system changed.
- Loss of tenure (due process) and seniority protections for teachers. Permanent status – or tenure – for teachers used to provide teachers with the right to a hearing before they could be dismissed. That is no longer the case. School systems no longer have to show any incompetence or wrongdoing in order to fire a teacher.
- Reduction of the importance of experience and education level as a factor in teacher salaries. Experience matters…except for public school teachers in Indiana.
- Accountability requiring teacher evaluations to be based on student test scores despite lack of validity. Note that legislature, policy makers, and politicians are not held accountable for funding, societal issues, etc.
- (I’m sure there are more that I’ve forgotten. Let me know…and I’ll add them here – – – –)
As expected, this attack on public education had the desired (by the Republican privatizers) effect. Schools are losing money. Teachers are fleeing the classroom (see here and here), retiring early, and fewer young people are entering the teaching profession.
Aug. 2, 2015
First-time teachers have decreased more than 18 percent in the past five years, leaving districts in a scramble.
Sept. 15, 2016
Indiana ranks among the lowest states for teacher recruitment and retention, according to a new nationwide study that anticipates a growing shortage of educators as fewer people enter the profession and demand grows.
In Indiana, more than a quarter of teachers say standardized testing makes them worried about job security — the highest proportion in the nation. Hoosier educators also earn starting salaries lower than the national average but face among the largest class sizes.
Those factors led to the state’s low rating for attracting professionals to the classroom in a report released this week by the Learning Policy Institute. Indiana scored a 2.17 out of a possible 5 points in a review of educator data, including teacher compensation and working conditions. Just three states, Arizona, Texas and Colorado, and the District of Columbia received lower scores.
The shortage continues…
October 24, 2017
School districts across Indiana are dealing with teacher shortages. According to a new survey, even more districts are feeling the impact now than in 2016. So, what’s going on?
More than 130 District Superintendents in the survey said they have a teacher shortage right now.
Some Republicans claim the teacher shortage isn’t actually happening. Note that the article linked here includes licensed teachers who are not in the classroom as part of the “excess.” Why are they not teaching? Did they leave the classroom because of the deterioration of working conditions and salary?
Nevertheless, in order to offset the loss of teaching staff in the state, rules for becoming a teacher have been relaxed…
…because nothing says increased achievement more than hiring under qualified personnel.
Sept. 3, 2014
The Indiana State Board of Education on Wednesday approved a controversial proposal to provide another way for people without a teaching degree to teach high school students, despite outrage from teachers who said it would devalue their profession and subject kids to unprepared educators.
SEPTEMBER 8, 2014
The final step in making our public schools as much unlike successful nations’ schools as possible, is to demoralize teachers and deprofessionalize the field of education. Instead of increasing requirements for becoming a teacher, we decrease them. Instead of doing what we need to do to attract the “best and the brightest” to our public school classrooms we make a career in the field of education so difficult and so filled with mind-numbing test-obsessed insanity that fewer and fewer students are going into teaching and older, experienced career teachers are leaving the field in greater and greater numbers.
REPA III requires training in some “related field.” Would any of the seven REPA III supporters on the Indiana State Board of Education want to be treated for an illness by say, an anatomy professor who never attended medical or nursing school, but who promised to learn how to practice medicine within a month? Would any of them go to a former police officer for legal help, for example, if the officer decided that s/he wanted to practice law and would start on her/his law degree during the first month of handling their case?
Do any of them send their own children to schools with untrained teachers?
Marquette University dropout and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker hates teachers (and most other public sector workers, as well) and ran his campaign on a platform of union busting. How has that worked out?
Apparently not so well for the students of Wisconsin. The “unintended” [sic] consequences of Walker’s attack on public schools, public school teachers, and public sector unions, has, believe it or not, reduced the number of people who want to become teachers in Wisconsin. Go figure…
“Rather than encouraging the best and the brightest to become teachers and remain in the field throughout their career,” Wisconsin state Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling said during a press call on Wednesday, “Act 10 has demonized and devalued the teaching profession and driven away many good teachers. These serious implications have left schools across Wisconsin struggling to fill teaching positions.”
That shortage is only starting. As time goes on and fewer people enter the field, the state’s school districts will struggle to find teachers to fill open slots. Already for the 2016-2017 school year, the state’s Department of Public Instruction had to relax the rules for teacher licenses so that more people could get one-year emergency approval to fill shortages.
In response, Wisconsin, like Indiana, has decided that Walker’s successful attempt to drive teachers away from Wisconsin means that they need to lower standards for teacher candidates.
Below you can read about a lobbyist for Wisconsin school boards. He doesn’t come out and say that Walker is the reason for the teacher shortage. Instead he claims that there haven’t been teacher salary raises since the Great Recession. Also, for some unexplained reason, the status of teachers isn’t as high as it once was.
Dan Rossmiller, lobbyist for the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, said the teacher shortages being felt in Wisconsin reflect a national trend of fewer high school students studying in college to become classroom teachers.
“The pipeline is definitely narrower and weaker than it used to be,” said Rossmiller.
Rossmiller said factors contributing to fewer people wanting to become teachers include a decline in the reliability of teacher pay raises since the Great Recession.
“For whatever reason, the status of teachers is not being seen as high as it once was,” said Rossmiller. He said when teachers stopped receiving pay raises to keep up with cost of living increases, the attractiveness of the profession declined.
STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE
Indiana and Wisconsin – along with other states across the nation (looking at you, Florida and North Carolina among others) – have found successful ways to weaken and destroy teachers unions, lower the quality of teachers in the classroom, and damage public education. It consists of a few simple steps.
- First, claim that public schools are failing and that teachers are at fault.
- Second, use the false narrative of failing public schools to pass laws which damage public education further and make the teaching profession less attractive.
- Third, lower the qualifications for teachers in order to find enough bodies to fill classroom positions.
- Fourth, blame the decimated and demoralized teaching force for not increasing student achievement.
Student achievement isn’t even considered except as a tool to bludgeon public schools.
I doubt that Walker (or Bennett, Daniels, and Pence in Indiana) are at all worried about the teacher shortage.
That was part of the plan all along.