INDIANA — On Wednesday, WRTV told you about all the openings at schools across Central Indiana. Many of them won't be filled in time for the start of the school year.
Lindsey and Pat Bradshaw, teachers for almost 20 years, give some insight on why this is the case.
When they first started, they say it was a dream job. Pat Bradshaw even proposed to Lindsey Bradshaw in her classroom. It made sense because their love for each other is only rivaled by their love of teaching.
"It was a fun job. It was the job you got to do, hang out with kids and change the world in your own little way," said Lindsey Bradshaw, a middle school science teacher.
"I started out in high school. I was teaching seniors government. To 18-year-olds, it's an important thing. They're going to go out and vote. It's important for them to know those important things, at least 17 years ago that's what it was about," said Pat Bradshaw, who's now a middle school social studies teacher.
The Bradshaws say there has been a shift over the last several years that has made their dream job less dreamy.
"I think what we are seeing is the villainizing of teachers," said Lindsey Bradshaw. "I just updated my résumé and put it out there into the world. Got on LinkedIn."
The couple says some of the topics they normally teach have become controversial. Parents have reached out to them to complain about the content.
"I probably have the most push back I would say on climate change. With just what's going with the EPA, you want to make sure you're keeping your kids informed," said Lindsey Bradshaw.
"I used to be able to say slavery was the main reason or cause for the Civil War. Within the last couple of years, I've been getting emails from an occasional parent saying we don't really know all the research," said Pat Bradshaw.
The Bradshaws believe this increased scrutiny from parents is directly related to politicians accusing teachers of indoctrinating students or having an agenda.
Along with this increased scrutiny from the community, starting salaries for teachers in Indiana hover around $40,000 annually. Indiana is ranked 38th in the nation in teacher pay.
The Bradshaws say with all these factors, it's not surprising there are around 3,000 teacher and instructional staff positions open across the state.
"All of these factors are driving folks away from the profession and it's simply unsustainable," said Keith Gambill, Indiana State Teachers Association President. Gambill predicted Indiana would be in this situation years ago.
"What is the state going to do to make sure this is a profession that Hoosiers want to go into?" he said. "Clearly, we're going to have to make more resources available for school districts to devote to salary and to wage-related benefits in order to make sure folks recognize that they can earn a living by going into this profession."
While upping teacher pay, Gambill says state leaders need to do more to support school employees.
"They're going to have to uplift the great work that our educators are doing. Our teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, all of the great work they're doing instead of us having the constant drum beat of everything that's going wrong in our schools," said Gambill.
Gambill believes entangling public education with politics has a real impact, giving people another reason to avoid becoming teachers in Indiana.
As summer winds down for the Bradshaws, the couple says they'll continue doing what they love but hope state leaders see the teacher shortage crisis and decide to act soon by focusing on solutions, not distractions.
"I trust you to go into your office, make the right votes and pass the right bills, make laws and things like that. Trust me to teach seventh-grade science the way it should be taught. Trust me to develop young people into great people," said Lindsey Bradshaw.