Shane Phipps: Students hurt by state’s cuts

Shane Phipps: Students hurt by state’s cuts

My job as a columnist is to keep my readers informed about the things going on in the world of public education. Sometimes that might mean that I have to vent a little bit about the frustrations that come with a career in education. Alas, that will be the case this week.

Last week, I highlighted a large, nationwide movement started by teachers to bring more awareness to the critical financial issues facing educators in particular and education in general. As I mentioned last week, the Red for Ed movement will be on full display in downtown Indianapolis on Tuesday, Nov. 19, as a huge demonstration rally will take place with thousands of teachers from around the state, donning red attire, will converge on the Indiana Statehouse. This week, I want to detail some of the reasons — including, but far from exclusive to, teacher pay – why this movement is so vital to the future of education in the Hoosier state. Teachers, myself included, have been trying to warn you about a coming storm for years. That storm is already upon us.

When teachers insist that a war has been waged upon public education, it’s not paranoia-driven hyperbole. There is a mountain of evidence to support that claim. All of the statistics I’m about to share have been properly vetted and sourced.

More than 90% of all Hoosier students attend public schools. That is an important piece of information. You need it to realize that everything else I’m about to share ends up coming back negatively upon 9 out of 10 Hoosier kids.

There are 289 public school districts in Indiana. For the next two fiscal years, 21% of those districts will receive less funding than they saw this past year. Do you think for one second that those districts losing funding are schools that have been given high letter grades by the state? How will taking money away from those districts help in any way?

For the next two fiscal years, Indiana’s total education budget calls for general increases of funding for public schools of 2.06% and 2.07%. Compare that with the slated funding increases for charter schools of 10.30% and 10.47%.

Indiana ranks 51st in the nation (District of Columbia included) for teacher salary increases over the past decade and a half while approximately $100 million per year is spent on standardized testing. On the flipside of that coin, Indiana ranks sixth in the nation in the amount of public tax money spent in the form of school choice vouchers for charter and private schools.

All this has led to a critical teacher shortage as 94% of Indiana’s school districts report that they don’t have enough applicants to fill all their openings.

I could go on, but that should be enough to allow you to see why so many teachers will be descending upon the Statehouse on Nov. 19.

Perhaps this time someone will finally listen.

Shane Phipps is an author and teacher in Indianapolis. Email him at [email protected].

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