Behning: Placing added value on classroom experience

Posted by: Samantha Holifield  | Friday, April 5, 2019 4:06 pm

Outside of parents, quality teachers are the single most important factor in student success. To keep skilled educators in the classroom, I am sponsoring legislation to provide local schools more flexibility to increase salaries across the board and ensure veteran educators are not undercompensated compared to their newer peers. As professionals gain experience, a salary that grows to match their skills is one of the key influences to staying in their career.  

Currently, teacher pay raises are determined by multiple factors, including experience and performance evaluations. When formulating individual raises, experience or tenure accounts for up to 33.3 percent of a pay increase. This helps ensure highly effective teachers are compensated for their hard work and positive results, while also preventing pay raises from being given out simply because someone remains in the classroom for another year, meeting minimum expectations. Educators who spend years working with students, learning to handle unique situations and honing their craft deserve to be compensated for the skills they gain. By placing more value on experience, talented individuals would be more incentivized to drive student success, pursue additional schooling and receive higher or specialized degrees. 

Salaries and benefits are determined at the local level through collective bargaining and budget decisions; however, within the current system, school districts wanting to increase pay for all educators are not able to provide equitable raises for experienced teachers. If a school increases starting salaries, new employees could begin their careers making more than their veteran peers. In some instances, skilled teachers can make more money entering another school district as a new hire than continuing in their current school. Switching districts with the intent to make more money as a starting teacher is often referred to as “district hopping.” This trend typically impacts those early in their careers, but in a few schools, this can affect some of the most experienced teachers. Hiring and bringing new employees up to speed is often a costly and timely process, and a revolving door of educators drains school resources and disrupts student learning.  

Under the proposal I am sponsoring, professional experience could account for up to 50 percent when determining raises. If starting salaries increase, schools could also increase veteran teacher compensation to match the new starting salary and further compensate them so their pay reflects their skills and experience. It is my hope that more educators would choose to stay in a school they love, meeting the needs of students instead of feeling pressured to hop from one district to another in order to make more money. 

Competitive salaries are important, and increasing pay to reflect experience, new skills and performance is key to keeping veteran educators in the profession. To learn more about this legislation and other bills being considered to increase teacher pay, visit iga.in.gov. To share input on this proposal or ask questions, please contact me at 317-232-9648 or h91@iga.in.gov.     

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State Rep. Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis) represents House District 91,

which includes portions of Hendricks and Marion counties.

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