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ISTA calls on Indiana State Board of Education to lighten educators’ workload

At today’s meeting, ISTA advocated for the Indiana State Board of Education to provide flexibility around instruction days and alleviate school districts from some training requirements.

On the agenda were several requests from districts to waive certain requirements allowed under HEA 1003 passed during the 2020 legislative session. These requests were directly related to educators feeling overburdened and overwhelmed by measures in place to provide instruction during COVID-19.

The transition back to school during the pandemic has created an entirely new set of challenges for educators’ with changing workloads, adjusting time management challenges and growing responsibilities. While required trainings around health and safety precautions are necessary and important, school employees are juggling both in-person and virtual instruction – requiring educators to work added hours each week with less time for planning and peer support and no increase in compensation.

ISTA members are acutely aware that the current circumstances require fluid, adaptive responses and solutions from everyone. They continue to answer the call, but these heroic efforts are unsustainable.

ISTA asked the state board to be fluid and adaptive. While greater flexibility is not in itself a one-stop fix, it is a tool through which schools can solve new problems that arise as it falls to teaching staff.

Before COVID-19, Indiana had a teacher shortage. With added workload and hours and anxiety around the pandemic, the profession is near a breaking point. The state must maintain quality student learning conditions balanced against reasonable working conditions.

Although state board members did deny some requests for flexibility, districts did succeed in receiving a variety of waivers specifically for each school corporation that applied, including alleviation of certain educator training requirements and allowances to use hours instead of instructional days – a move that will provide these districts with greater leeway in how they structure school days to maximize learning time.

ISTA will continue to fight to address educator workload and stress in the upcoming legislative session. Working conditions and pay will be among our top priorities.