As a former member of AmeriCorps, Jared saw the power that a great teacher has upon students. He also saw that many community problems manifest themselves in their schools. A great teacher that is passionate about learning who can act as a mentor for their students can lead young people to achieve extraordinary things.
Address the Indiana Teacher Shortage
- Indiana faces a severe teacher shortage. This is because the cost of attending college to pursue an education in teaching is greater than the benefit. The average teacher salary in Indiana is $34,000 a year. We must provide incentives for talented young people to pursue an education in K-12 teaching, such as student loan forgiveness, payments on student loan interest, grants, and budgets for classroom supplies. Jared knows a teacher who invested $7,000 in his classroom and is unable to write it of off on his taxes. This is unacceptable.
- Create a program where first-year teachers are coached by experienced “master teachers,” who have demonstrated an exemplary career in K-12 education.
- Create a career ladder for teachers like that of the District of Columbia public school system. Teachers can be provided opportunities beyond “professional development” to equip themselves to better serve their students. Teachers are professionals and should be treated as such. They should be encouraged to seek fellowship programs, further their education, and strive towards academic excellence themselves. They must lead by example for their students.
- Ensure that schools in high poverty areas have social workers, more school nurses and that counselors know their students and can support them as they plan for the future.
- Ensure that teacher evaluations are not seen as just a burden for school administration, but a tool to coach, mentor, and provide feedback to educators.
K-12 Education Reform
- In many cases, Hoosier teachers are responsible for 30 scholars in their classroom. Sometimes special education students are integrated into their classrooms that require special attention, but because of large class sizes, teachers are unable to accommodate them. We must work to reduce the ratio of teachers to students in our public schools.
- Because of increases in poverty and addiction in Indiana, many children are vulnerable to experiencing trauma at a young age. Jared worked with third graders who attempted suicide in a District of Columbia public school. We must change the way we provide social services to our scholars through trauma-informed care to address mental health issues among our children and identify how mental health issues impact their ability to learn and grow into adults.
- Bring back the General Diploma to set up scholars for success in the workforce, rather than holding them back. General diplomas are accepted by employers in Indiana. We must work to improve our K-12 graduation rates.
- Ensure that children from Kindergarten to 12th grade receive a quality education in computer science and technology. Data is the new oil. We must ensure that our children possess the knowledge and understanding of technology to adapt with the rapid pace of technological advancement.
- Ensure that vocational training meets the needs of local employers by interacting with them and asking them what skills they need from their workforce. Vocational training should also not be seen as a way to make scholars who have difficulties in school employable after graduation. Those graduating with honors should also be encouraged to explore trades and vocational training. Jared took an information technology class at the Bedford North Lawrence Vocational Center in high school.
- Reduce the burden of standardized testing and replace it with a more agile method of assessment that incorporates feedback to improve student proficiency in English language arts and mathematics. Teachers should not teach for a test. They should teach their scholars to prepare for their future.
- Jared has spoken with law enforcement on the issue of school safety after the tragedy in Parkland, Florida and supports local efforts to add qualified and trained resource officers in our high schools and middle schools as a means of prevention. Jared does not support law enforcement being used within the school as a punitive measure, but as a means to improve relationships between law enforcement and to interact and discuss the issues with our youth.
Substance Abuse Education
- Despite being 31, Jared is proud that he won the DARE Award in 5th grade. But unfortunately, Jared no longer believes DARE is an effective, evidence-based program that addresses the scale and needs to combat substance abuse. Jared would like to see DARE abolished in the State of Indiana and local funding going towards evidence-based programs that have proven to be effective. Over 30 years of research proves that DARE is not effective, and in some instances actually increases youth substance abuse.
- In Jared’s experience working in integrated classrooms, he did not know which students had Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). Many of his students were not yet diagnosed with autism, attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Due to the high prevalence of poverty and growing mental illness, we must ensure that children are properly diagnosed as early as possible and that teachers, staff, and administrators are informed on how to better fit their needs as scholars. We must also ensure that teachers at the beginning of the school year are aware of the needs of their students.
If you are a teacher, Jared recommends buying the book “Teach Like a Champion.”