Educating our children is one of the most important responsibilities we Hoosiers have. That duty is written into it Article 8 of the Indiana Constitution, which provides in an appropriate section that “it shall be the duty of the General Assembly to promote, by all appropriate means, the improvement of morals, knowledge, science, and agriculture and to prepare, through the law , for a general and equal system of Normal Schools. , which will be free, and everyone has the same opportunity.” That was the glorious promise of our Constitution in 1851, but in reality 170 years later, it is not the most important thing, maybe even less. Not only are our children lagging behind in skill levels compared to other states, so are teacher salaries. The high level of expertise is well suited to teacher salaries. Historically, low investment in K-12 education is to blame for both.
The teaching profession has changed a lot in the last twenty years. The public opinion that we can pay teachers less because “teachers are on summer vacation” is false and misleading. With additional school years, additional in-service training and safety requirements, teachers have very little time between the end of one school year and the start of the next. I wonder how many of us would be successful in finding a worthwhile summer job if we could only work for one month. Unfortunately, teachers need to focus on many things other than teaching, they have little time to teach and when they do, they do it under the cloud. constant worry about whether another incident will happen at their school.
At the beginning of every meeting of the Legislature, the General Assembly and the governor often discuss the importance of education in their affairs. This year is no exception. Although things have improved in recent years, education is not an area where we can rest on our laurels, and in fact, the hope is to be better than Kentucky, Mississippi or Arkansas is not enough. We must look at every opportunity to continue to improve. Generally, I am happy about the increase in teacher salaries in Indiana, but it is still too late and more could be done at a lower cost to taxpayers by properly targeting the tax relief for teachers. .
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More than a decade ago, Congress passed and President George Bush signed legislation to address the teacher shortage, in part by establishing student loan forgiveness and programs for student loan forgiveness. These student loan forgiveness programs are not the same as the current student loan cancellation program, which if it occurs , applies to all student loans, not only for teachers and other government employees. I can understand the conflict, but the requirement for students with a teaching degree is higher than the requirement for students with a master’s degree in basket weaving (if there is a degree so). Many teachers go into education hoping to have their loans forgiven after meeting all the requirements, which include a commitment to teach. Those promises have come to fruition and student loans for teachers have finally been forgiven according to these programs.
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Despite this, the state of Indiana continues to legalize student loans as income, but the federal government does not. A teacher friend recently found out that a large amount of her student loan debt was forgiven through the program. The state of Indiana will tax him without prior warning to my friend that the federal government’s amnesty is imminent. Most people, including teachers, don’t have enough flexibility in their budgets to pay the state an extra few thousand dollars. My friend has a huge teacher salary increase this year. But there is a simple order, good manners and manners. I respectfully ask the General Assembly to pass a law for the signature of the governor, to exclude the forgiveness of student loans from the payment of taxes and to live up to our basic responsibilities of teaching our children “by any means necessary”.
Joby D. Jerrells is an attorney and former board member of Springville Community Academy, in Lawrence County, Indiana.