Addressing teacher shortage, stagnant wages, and education costs, Josh proposes permanent Public Education Endowment and invests $300 million per year – $3 billion over 10 years – in Indiana public education; guarantees teacher raises and minimum compensation of $50,000 for all teachers in Indiana. The plan does not require a tax increase.

The Public Education Endowment Plan:

Education is the key to Indiana’s future. The investment we make in our public education system must be as big, as bold, and as inclusive as the future we hope to achieve in our state. It must draw excellent teachers into our system. It must pay teachers what they deserve. It must support our schools, our families, our students, and our teachers fairly. And it must lower the cost of life-long learning.

Josh’s plan addresses long-standing issues in both K-12 and higher education in Indiana. It is not enough to put more money into our public education system, we must also be intentional about where that money is going. Josh’s plan draws on conversations with teachers, public comments, prior legislative proposals, and on his experience in education policy and in university classrooms.

With the aim of putting more money in our public schools and improving the quality of life of our teachers and students, Josh’s plan will:

Invest $300 million per year into public education:

Indiana needs a big, bold investment in public education. For too many years, Indiana politicians have prioritized surpluses at the expense of investments in our future. Josh’s plan responsibly puts our tax dollars to use, enshrining our budget surplus into a next-generation Public Education Endowment while retaining a right-sized Rainy Day Fund. This plan invests over $300 million per year in public education with no new taxes. Finally, Indiana’s education dollars must be spent in schools where all students are respected and protected from bias, which is why Josh advocates for a phase out of the voucher program.

  • Josh will use Indiana’s budget surplus of over $2 billion to create a permanent public education endowment to support public education for generations to come. Josh will cap the “Rainy Day Fund” at $300 million and put any excess surpluses into the public education endowment. Josh will change the law to allow for regular investment strategies for the endowment (similar to what is used for universities) for an average estimated annual market yield of 5% or greater, with proceeds going exclusively to teachers and classrooms. Estimated annual new investment in public education in perpetuity: $120 million per year.
  • Josh will phase out the voucher program over a multi-year window. The Choice applicants will be reduced to two tracks: Continuing Choice (approximately 75% of choice scholarship applicants) and Sibling (approximately 6% of choice scholarship applicants). The 3% of current Hoosier students who receive choice scholarships will be allowed to continue at their selected school with a Choice scholarship. Estimated annual return to public education: $160 million per year. 
  • Josh will make the merit bonus pool currently tied to performance evaluations instead a permanent salary increase for teachers. Estimated annual impact for public education: $30 million per year.

Ensure teacher pay improves:

The average Hoosier teacher makes just over $54,000/year, but some salaries are as low as $30,000/year for Hoosier teachers. Josh recognizes that we cannot compete for great teaching talent if wages do not increase. Indiana teachers have seen buying power decrease by 15% when adjusted for inflation, from $59,986 in 2000 to $50,544 in 2017. Additionally, we cannot continue to burden our teachers with unnecessary licensing requirements that reduce classroom preparation time. Low wages have worsened Indiana’s teacher shortage, with 92 percent of Indiana school districts struggling to find qualified applicants and a 60 percent drop in individuals entering Indiana’s teacher preparation programs.

  • Josh will create a minimum compensation package of $50,000 per year for all teachers in public schools in Indiana.
  • Josh will require school districts to enact annual cost of living increases for all teachers based on the prior year Indiana inflation rate.
  • Josh will eliminate the local business hours externship requirement for licensing.

Ensure equity in our schools:

All students in public education must be equally and fairly supported. That is why Josh will fight to ensure textbook fees are completely reimbursed for families, and that state funding dollars truly follow students throughout the year. If a school takes new students during the school year, that school should be supported with the funding needed to meet that student’s needs. Finally, Josh understands that public charter schools must have fair rules that treat all schools equally.

  • Josh will deliver a $1 for $1 Indiana tax credit to 100% offset the cost of textbook fees for every Hoosier family with students in any public school, ending the inequity of offering tax deduction for private school families but not to public school families.
  • Josh will require student funding be adjusted based on the monthly reported student count data and require that funding is backfilled for transfer students to ensure education dollars follow the student throughout the year. 
  • Josh will allow only one charter school authorizing board in any one location, eliminating duplicative administration costs.
  • Josh will push for adoption of a unified enrollment strategy statewide to improve access and data integrity.
  • Josh will repeal the $1 charter school building lease law, allowing public school districts to appropriately monetize valuable property.

Reduce the cost of higher education:

Josh knows that the cost of higher education is out of control. Indiana spends over $1 billion each year on public higher education. That’s why Josh wants to ensure our colleges are innovating to reduce the cost of life-long learning. Josh proposes two straightforward solutions that protect higher education funding but also incentivize lower cost options for students.

  • Josh will require all public universities and colleges to have a credible, optional three-year path to graduation for all new incoming students.
  • Josh will require all public universities and colleges to accept transfer credits from any other accredited college or university in the nation.