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ISTA calls on lawmakers to invest $75 million on teacher pay

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.-- The Indiana State Teacher’s Association is asking the state for $75 million for what it calls a down payment on teacher pay.

“We’ve heard the Governor say he would like to see Indiana in the top three within the region. To wait, we know, is only going to cost the state more,” said ISTA President Keith Gambill.

He calls the 75 million dollars a down payment to provide an increase to teachers’ base salaries. However, Republican leadership isn’t on board to address teacher pay this coming session.

“Well, you know we gave 763 million dollars to K-12 education during this year in 2019 and the budget, we’ll talk about a number of education issues but we want to wait and kind of watch and see how that influx of money has assisted schools so we won’t do a lot of conversation about that specifically in this legislative session,” said Republican President Pro Tempore State Senator Rodric Bray.

House Minority Leader Phil GiaQuinta said Democrats will keep trying.

“We’re going to push for an increase in teacher pay," said GiaQuinta. "Teachers have fallen behind in the last ten years their compensation, for the most part, has not caught up with inflation.”

Other urgent items on ISTA’s list include holding teachers and schools harmless from ILEARN scores and repealing the externship requirements from last session.

Governor Eric Holcomb says he supports the idea of holding harmless test scores, but wants to make the externship optional. Democratic State Senator J.D. Ford is proposing a bill that would completely repeal it.

“I feel like my proposal is the best proposal that’s out there because it totally eliminates the language from the bill that passed this last session,” said Ford.

He worries Holcomb’s proposal means lawmakers may try to pass a suggestive bill. We asked Gambill if he would be open to an optional externship law.

“We want to see the details, what exactly do they mean when they say this is an option?" said Gambill.

There’s a list of additional ISTA legislative priorities including more counselors for students, reducing reliance on high stakes test scores and requiring greater transparency for all schools that receive state funding.

“Our teachers are first and foremost concerned about their students," said Gambill. "And the work that we are doing is to provide the absolute best education for all of our students.”

You can find a full list of ISTA’s legislative priorities below:

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