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What is causing Indiana's teacher shortage?


Teacher turnover and shortages are becoming a serious issue for a lot of Indiana’s school districts. Some of Indiana’s largest districts are the hardest hit. Last month, Indianapolis Public Schools announced that 200 teachers and support staff have left the schools district. Lafayette and West Lafayette Schools are now saying they are on the brink of having classrooms without teachers.



As the districts’ Superintendents explain, legislative overreach and state pension changes are partly to blame.


(West Lafayette Superintendent Rocky) Killion believes it’s the combined impact of recent legislative reforms giving less freedom to teachers in the classroom and basing salaries on standardized testing, meaning in some cases districts are cutting pay.  

WISH-TV is reporting that many Superintendents are blaming the state's decision to cut pensions, with some long serving educators standing to lose tens of thousands of dollars should they choose not to retire this year.


24-Hour News 8 wanted to know more about how significant the impact has been, so we asked the Indiana Public Retirement System for numbers.


The response: the state expects 10,200 retirements from the Public Employees Retirement Fund (PERF) and the Teachers Retirement Fund (TRF) in the 2014 calendar year.


In 2013, there were 8,130 retirements. That represents about a 25.5% jump.


As we wrote last month:


Teacher turnover doesn’t just cost school districts millions of dollars every year; it is the children attending our public schools that pay the greatest price. Our state’s children deserve high quality educators who are focused on their education and not about job security.


The climate for teaching and learning created by policies enacted since 2008 are likely to blame. The dramatic expansion of charter schools, private school vouchers, pension cuts, A-F labeling, new rules for teacher evaluations using student test scores and the de-professionalizing of educator licensing are just a few examples of what has been done to lower teacher morale.


Another key factor for turnover is the stagnant wages for teachers in Indiana.  The trend which has affected all public school employees is preventing many districts from competitively compensating its employee---all this despite a reported $2 billion surplus for the most recent fiscal year.


According to a recent report, teacher turnover in Indiana has cost Hoosier taxpayers up to $45 million.