A parent advocacy group for Northwest Allen County Schools continued a series on education by bringing in state Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick Tuesday night.
While education makes up over $9 billion of the state budget, Indiana is closer to 50th than first in many categories, and the ongoing teacher shortage is not slowing down. McCormick highlighted data that showed those negative trends.
“If we have 35 percent of our teachers leaving in year one through five, not leaving to go to another school, but leaving the profession, we are in trouble,” McCormick said.
McCormick talked about a range of issues facing education in Indiana, such as a willingness to test for lead, but not how to fund cleaning up the problem. She also spoke about how arming teachers has been overemphasized and the lack of accountability for voucher and charter schools makes it impossible to track where taxpayer money is going.
McCormick said these are examples of how education is over legislated, but under prioritized.
“At the end of the day, it has to be a priority and you have to fund it. You have to set aside the veterinary barns. You have to pause on the swine barns. You have to wait a minute on some roads," McCormick said. "You’re going to have to prioritize differently and until that willingness is there, we’re going to continue to talk this to death.”
Throughout her speech, McCormick emphasized the role advocacy plays in creating change. She credited the teachers who rallied outside the Statehouse on "Red for Ed Day" in November for the eventual passage of hold harmless legislation that will prevent schools from being penalized for low scores on the state’s new ILEARN exam. She also praised the more-than 25 teachers running for elected office throughout the state.