School stock

INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Department of Education will submit its annual list of teacher shortages to the U.S. Department of Education this week.

The list highlights 14 subject areas in which Indiana struggles to find educators. They fall into the exceptional needs and STEM-learning categories.

"Sadly, 'Indiana' and 'Teacher Shortage' have become synonymous terms," Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick said in an IDOE news release. "For nearly a decade, we have struggled to find educators to fill even the frequently offered classroom subjects. Unfortunately, this shortage continues to spill into areas not only critical to Indiana's educational plan, but areas that prepare our students for a bright future."

Those subject areas include business, computer education, computer science, early childhood education, mathematics, secondary language arts, technology education and teachers of English learners, as well as all areas of career and technical education licensure, exceptional needs, science and world languages.

Fine arts fields including instrumental and general music, and vocal and general music are also in demand, according to the news release.

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This comes as teachers across the state have rallied in support of greater allocation of state resources to support pay for public educators. Indiana legislators have debated several budget proposals in this legislative session supporting only minimal increases to public education funding and not expected to meet the rise in inflation.

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None of the legislation brought forth in this budget session has explicitly proposed direct funding for increased teacher pay — a deterrent in obtaining and retaining educators in Indiana public schools.

However, educators have been generally supportive of proposals first prompted by Gov. Eric Holcomb to use state reserve funds to reduce school corporations' annual teacher pension contributions, freeing up funds to be used at Indiana districts' discretion.

State Sen. Eddie Melton, D-Gary, said in a statement that Indiana's challenge to obtain teachers is no surprise and educators, students and schools deserve better.

"Our teachers are tasked with the impossible, with slimmer budgets every year that barely, if ever, account for inflation, and with salaries that have the slowest growth in the entire nation," Melton said. "This shortage of teachers is a cry for help and with a few days left in the 2019 session, I believe it is one that the state legislature can and should answer."

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Education Reporter

Carley Lanich covers education in Lake County and throughout the Region. She comes to Northwest Indiana from Indianapolis and is an IU-Bloomington grad.