INDIANAPOLIS – Governor Holcomb and Statehouse Republicans’ teacher pay plan is so shaky, they’re struggling to get members of their own party on board. At a town hall meeting last Saturday, State Senator Vaneta Becker (R-Evansville) wasn’t buying Statehouse Republicans’ plan to boost teachers’ paychecks.
“We as legislators pass the buck, say it’s up to local schools to do this. We’re talking about raises for teachers and you know what we’re telling them this year? You’re going to do that out of the existing money we give you. How do you think that’s going to help with a shortage of teachers?”
Becker also skewered anemic school funding, saying schools would be ‘lucky’ to get an increase that covers inflation. She blamed the rapid expansion of school education reform
“We sit up here and we fund schools, and if they’re lucky, they’re going to get a 2 percent increase in funding in this next budget. Two percent will just barely cover inflation. Schools are not going to have extra money. We used to have nurses in all our schools…until the legislature quit funding them adequately. That’s the reality…Except that we don’t give them the funding to provide all the services that kids need, unfortunately. And it’s because we’re robbing Peter to pay Paul…”
“Ever since we got into all this education reform so to speak, all we’ve done is ended up cutting funding to schools. Because we’re now supporting three different areas of education. We’re supporting charter schools, which are supposed to be public schools except that they don’t operate under the same guidelines and requirements. We’re supporting vouchers to private schools which takes away money from public schools. And we’re still funding public schools. So we have one pot of money, but now we have three different systems we’re supporting. Do you think we have money for all three? Anybody think that here? That’s the problem.”
Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody agreed with Sen. Becker and questioned whether teachers will see a significant bump in pay.
“When you can’t even get members of your own party on board, you have a problem,” said Zody. “Sen. Becker is right, it sure looks like Republicans’ plan to raise teachers’ pay is to cross their fingers and hope educators don’t notice GOP inaction. We have to do better for our educators and our kids.”