This past session, Senate Democrats made it their mission to raise teacher pay in Indiana. After a decade of teachers being denied salary increases, and actually seeing a decrease in their earnings when accounting for inflation, legislators on both sides of the aisle seemed to be in agreement that it was time for our teachers to be recognized and compensated fairly. Despite appearing to be on the same page, however, it soon became clear that raising teacher salaries was not a priority for the Republican supermajority. Not only did they block all Democratic proposals to raise teacher salaries, but they approved no other legislation to guarantee a raise for Indiana teachers.

Teachers and other education advocates were upset by the General Assembly’s missed opportunity, but some folks don’t fully understand the drastic need to raise teacher pay. In fact, some people don’t believe a problem even exists. With the most recent statistics showing that Indiana teachers make $57,696 on average, some feel that teachers already make enough. It’s important to note, however, that this average amount that Hoosier educators are purported to make is not only less than that of all our neighboring states, but is also not a true reflection of Indiana teacher salaries.

To resolve this misconception, it is important to first clarify that teacher salaries can vary drastically among school districts. The starting salary in some Indiana districts is as low as $30,000. The highest reported starting salary for the 2017-18 school year was $46,852. This data reveals that most teachers start out with a salary that is significantly below the $57,696 average. Even if those teachers did regularly receive raises, it would be a while before many teachers began making what Hoosiers already believe they make – which is still less than all of our neighboring states. In some districts, the salary made by the highest paid educator in the district is less than the reported state average of $57,696. It is only because of the handful of teachers taking home higher salaries, due to tenure or previous compensation of advanced education, that the average appears high. Teachers are no longer compensated for furthering their education. When these teachers retire in the next few years, the average salary for Indiana teachers will drop, showing an average that is more representative of what teachers in Indiana really make.