One of my friends is a first-year teacher at a public school in Indiana. She was beyond excited for her first day and truly loves being an educator – it’s always been her dream. I saw her after her first week and despite all of the love she has for educating, when I asked her how she was doing she replied, “Kayla, it’s so hard. It’s heartbreaking at times, and I do love it.” Throughout our conversation, she stated “it’s so hard” repeatedly. She also expressed concerns about possibly needing to quit her second job because of time constraints and worried about financially making things work.
She’s not wrong. Being a teacher is hard, especially in Indiana. No state in the country has had slower salary growth since 2002. Teachers here earn approximately $11,000 less than other college graduates, and Indiana is last among its neighbors in terms of average salary. We’ve been posting stats on our Facebook and Twitter over the last few weeks about Indiana teachers.
These stats are startling, but they don’t tell the full story like the conversation I had with my friend. These stats don’t explain the depth of emotion in my friend’s voice as she was struggling to put a smile on during her first weeks of following her dream of teaching. The stats don’t show the exhaustion our teachers feel when they are working two jobs to make ends meet. These stats also don’t show the love and hopes our teachers have for our children, for their students.
When my friend was explaining why it was so hard to be a teacher, she brought up students who needed more love, more effort, more focus. She explained how much there was to do, her love for what she does, and how much she wants to see each child in her class reach their full potential. When I look at these stats, I think of my friend and I hope that we don’t lose more great teachers like her. When I look at these stats, I hope to see change. I hope to see Hoosiers embrace, support and pay Indiana teachers what they deserve.