INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Indiana teachers are calling for state lawmakers to give them the power to improve their working conditions through collective bargaining. Some legislators tell us, working conditions within schools should be organized by school administrators.
Today, the Indiana State Teachers Association asked lawmakers to let teachers negotiate daily prep time, healthier and safer environments and smaller class sizes through collective bargaining. The majority of Indiana public schools already lifted their starting salaries to $40,000, but the ISTA says the state needs to do more.
“We are calling on the general assembly to respect Indiana teachers and restore their ability to bargain contracts that include health and safety conditions, class sizes, and prep periods for teachers to prepare lessons and to grade work,” Keith Gambill, President, said.
ISTA said the opportunity for collective bargaining would hopefully entice more teachers to work in Indiana or continue in their jobs. Like states across the country, Indiana is also facing severe teacher shortages.
“If there are too many students in a classroom, we are unable to provide them the education they deserve,” Jessica Ramirez, a special education teacher, said.
Parents tell us they notice the impact on their kids who attend public schools.
“My daughter’s even said like I can’t even get questions answered,” Ryan Grimes said. “I’ll raise my hand and she’s like, ‘we don’t have anymore time for questions.'”
Indiana Senate Education Committee Chairman Senator Jeff Raatz believes collective bargaining for school working conditions is not a state issue.
“It’s incumbent on them to set the appropriate conditions,” Raatz said. “That’s my opinion, that’s why I wouldn’t necessarily consider supporting or creating a document that would allow collective bargaining for working conditions.”
Raatz said the state has already done their job when it comes to supporting the schools, by increasing teacher’s pay. Still, the teacher’s union says they are not giving up the fight.
Generally speaking, teachers can only negotiate pay right now. Prior to 2011, they could negotiate more, like planning periods and class size limits.