By Stephanie Wang
In a survey this year, Indiana State University researchers asked Indiana school superintendents if they faced a teacher shortage — and how bad the problem was.

“It’s killing us,” one respondent wrote.

“This situation is getting worse each year,” another said. “Scares me!”

“Indiana’s war on teachers is winning,” a superintendent commented.

Out of the 220 districts that responded to the survey, 91 percent reported experiencing a teacher shortage, with most feeling the pinch in science, math, and special education.

Eighty-five percent of the surveyed districts applied for emergency permits for people who don’t have teaching licenses, or educators who are hired to teach subjects outside their licensure.

Superintendents overwhelmingly said it was difficult to find qualified job candidates, and many mentioned high teacher turnover rates. They often pointed to low pay as the cause, competing against other higher-paying districts or the private sector.

School districts that had better luck often said they started the hiring process early, or they could offer higher salaries.

Here are a selection of administrators’ comments from the survey, lightly edited for clarity and length, about why they believe there is a teacher shortage and how they think the state could fix it.

Money matters

  • “Pay teachers more and offer better benefits. Respect the profession.”
  • “Overworked. Little or no pay raises in the past and none expected in the future.
  • “The burnout rate increases because teachers are covering higher caseloads because of the shortage. Even when provided with an annual increase, overall morale of teachers in the state is low.”
  • “This is the only profession I am aware of that experience and added degrees inhibit you from moving forward. Once you get a job, you better stay or you will be overqualified and not affordable!”
  • “The quality of applicants is quite low. We have replaced the same position 3 times since school started. People keep jumping around for higher pay.”
  • “There has been more competition for teachers this year. We are a small, rural school district and we had to replace 14 teachers this year. Larger nearby corporations were able to offer more money to several of our folks and they moved on. It’s been a very difficult summer.”

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