INDIANAPOLIS — There are three bills being discussed by legislators at the Statehouse that have public educators and their advocates worried they will decrease funding for public education.
HB 1005, SB 412, and SB 413 would expand school choice options for families in Indiana. Income eligibility for school choice vouchers would increase and a new funding program would be created, including state-funded scholarships for students who want to attend a private school. The funding would come from money meant for traditional public schools.
Four soon-to-be music educators, Joseph Rodriguez, Kelsey Zetzl, Marissa Johnson, and Ntinyari Miriti said they are very aware of these bills that could impact their chosen profession.
"It's very frustrating to see any instance where funding is being taken from public schools that need it so desperately," Zetzl said.
"The reality is we may have to buy provide materials for our students with our own money," Johnson said.
"The financial situation is nothing new," Miriti said.
"It's disappointing to see bills that are going through the Senate right now, but not shocking," Rodriguez said. "For like two weeks at the beginning of the pandemic, it was like, 'yeah, we support our teachers through and through,' but now, we're back to being glorified babysitters."
Despite the challenges that lay ahead, all of the future educators said their passion for teaching music, along with the great music programs across Indiana, will probably keep them in the state as they look for jobs.
"I've always wanted to teach. Butler has made me fall in love with this place, so I want to teach here even though I know what that might mean financially," Miriti said.
"I think Indiana is the core for a lot of great music programs," Johnson said.
"I want to be with a strong music program, but it's hard when the state devalues public education," Rodriquez said.
"There's so many things that public education does besides teaching you notes and rhythms or reading and writing," Zetzl said. "It's frustrating when you're trying to provide all these services on less and less and less."
Michele Justus-Hobbs, an educator of 20 years, shared some advice for these soon-to-be teachers and anyone else thinking about going into education.
"Remind yourself that you're a commodity to the districts that hire you. I think sometimes as teachers, we can sell ourselves short especially when we're new teachers" Justus-Hobbs said. "There's always a silver lining at the end of those clouds and when walk in and close that door with your kids, that's what's it all about it. If your hearts there, just go for it."