This week, the House Education Committee, on a partisan vote of 9-3, passed House Bill 1003. House Bill 1003 affirms increasing teacher salaries but provides no additional funding to public schools to do so. Instead, the GOP calls on public schools to spend differently. Their mantra is that public schools should spend 85 percent of funding in the classroom.
While this is a noble idea, there are flaws with this approach. What they do not seem to understand is that unless more revenue is provided, there will be less money to provide custodial, maintenance, secretarial, health, special education and other support services for students and teachers. Teachers will be doing more than just educating their students if this happens.
If legislators are serious about increasing teachers' salaries without increasing school funding, I would suggest the same to them: Spend differently on public education. Here are three ways to increase teacher salaries without increasing school funding:
1. Quit spending over $100 million on standardized testing. Standardized testing will not improve the education of students. Standardized test scores should not regulate student, teacher and school corporation effectiveness. As with any school year, past, present or future, there is very little educational value to ISTEP+ scores or in comparing these scores between school corporations.
A statistically sound approach for measuring student achievement and holding school corporations accountable for student learning is that of measuring student academic growth over time, which standardizing testing does not do. Reallocate this resource to teacher salaries.
2. Quit spending over $10 million on IREAD-3 testing. Teachers do not need this test to determine whether or not a student is reading at a third-grade level. The best, most efficient way to find out whether a third-grade student is reading at a third-grade level is by asking a third-grade teacher. Reallocate this resource to teacher salaries.
3. Quit spending over $70 million on student vouchers for students who have never attended a public school. School choice is a valid argument, and if a school is failing, then students should have a choice, which in my opinion should be a public school choice.
However, over 60 percent of students who are using taxpayer dollars to attend a private/religious school have never attended a public school. Many of these students can attend a high-performing public school. Reallocate this resource to teacher salaries.
Spending goes both ways. If legislators want school districts to spend differently, then they too should be willing to spend differently. The aforementioned ideas are only three ideas in which they can do so. I am hopeful they will listen to their own advice.
Rocky Killion is superintendent of West Lafayette Community School Corp.