Listen Live

(INDIANAPOLIS) -Indiana’s largest teachers’ union says the state needs to do more to fix a teacher shortage.

The Indiana State Teachers Association says Indiana’s made big strides toward the union’s long push to make salaries competitive with schools in other states. President Keith Gambill says three-quarters of Indiana school districts now meet the ISTA’s benchmark of paying all teachers at least $40,000 a year. That’s nearly triple the number at the start of the year.

But like labor shortages plaguing most industries over the last several months, raising pay hasn’t been enough to bring workers back. Gambill says while raising pay was the union’s top priority, it’s not the only factor in a continuing shortage of teachers and substitutes. He says the union’s top priority for the upcoming legislative session is to restore its right to negotiate over class sizes, health and safety standards, and prep time.

A 10-year-old Indiana law limits teachers’ collective bargaining to pay and benefits. Warren Township Schools union president Jenny Whitaker says crowded classes and extra hours are burning teachers out.

Gambill says expanding the scope of contract talks wouldn’t solve the problem overnight, but argues it would slow the pace of current teachers who are either retiring early or quitting the profession entirely.

The proposal faces an uphill climb at the statehouse. House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers) says he likes the bargaining law the way it is.