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TAKE ACTION: Tell legislators there should be no winners and losers in teaching


A long held goal by some is to break teacher unions in Indiana. In the last decade, a slew of out-of-state corporate funders have pushed bills aimed at weakening teachers’ voices and their ability to collectively advocate for the needs of kids. A legislator has filed a bill that would further this agenda under the pretense of addressing the state’s teacher shortage.


In an effort at addressing the teacher shortage, SB 379 (Sen. Pete Miller, R – Avon) would allow school administrators to unilaterally negotiate individual teacher contracts in their schools, separate from those contracts negotiated for teachers in the local teachers association. Sen. Miller asserts STEM teachers are most in need, and therefore, these teachers should be paid more than other disciplines.


The true political nature of the bill is exposed when Sen. Miller says his aim is to pay these non-union member teachers more, but at the same time admits schools will not be getting any more state funding to pay for these supposed higher wages.


Schools only get one allocation for teacher salaries. Pay one teacher more, another must earn less.


To advocate for greater pay for STEM teachers may sound plausible, but it doesn’t work in the real world, nor is it fair. If we start cherry-picking certain teachers to pay more, that means the majority of other teachers will be paid less. Making non-STEM teaching jobs less desirable would no doubt further exacerbate the teacher shortage and further harm students.


Aside from the pure political agenda behind the bill, his idea exacerbates Indiana’s teacher shortage, pitting teacher against teacher, while destroying the collaborative climate within schools. Teachers would be left to compete for jobs based on accepting lower wages, rather than based on their ability, experience or outcomes. All to the detriment of our students and the learning environment.


K-12 public education is about giving students a strong set of educational opportunities in ALL subjects—the foundational subjects, the subjects that complement critical thinking, and, yes, the STEM subjects. That encompasses a well-rounded education. 


Sen. Miller’s bill ends up being divisive, partisan and counter-productive—all three examples of what good public policy should not be.