Only one-third of Indiana’s fourth graders and eighth graders can read proficiently, according to the 2022 National Assessment of Education Progress results. The state’s reading results began a precipitous decline long before Covid-era school closures decimated academic outcomes. Sadly, Indiana State Teachers Association’s (ISTA) members “spoke out en masse against a new literacy training requirement,” calling it “excessive,” “rigorous,” “time-consuming,” and “burdensome.”

As part of Indiana’s embrace of evidence-based reading instruction, elementary school teachers must complete 80 hours of “science of reading” training. The requirement, which can be fulfilled through free flexible online instruction, will become a teaching license renewal requirement in 2027. After years of using “three-cueing,” balanced literacy, and other failed reading instruction methods, teachers will be instructed on how to provide effective phonics-based instruction.

The state teachers union’s secretary, Dianna Reed, complained to the state board of education that the training requirements have “increased stress and compounded existing challenges of teacher burnout and retention,” a common refrain when teachers unions oppose a new policy. Reed lamented that “these new requirements do not signal to our teachers that their education degrees obtained…are valued.”

The union leader is correct that the value of many education degrees is questionable. Indiana’s teachers must be deprogrammed from the weak and harmful reading instruction provided by the state’s teacher preparation programs. Last year, the National Council on Teacher Quality reported that “Indiana ranks among the worst in the nation for the average number of components of reading its programs adequately address.” The organization gave 10 out of 18 Indiana teacher prep programs a D or an F grade.

Unfortunately, Indiana education officials lowered the literacy training requirements after the teacher unions complained, a decision that will ultimately harm students.

To learn more about teachers unions opposing policies that prioritize academic instruction, read “California Teachers Association Blocks Evidence-Based Literacy Instruction” and “Teachers Union In Ohio Eliminates Reading Tutoring.” Listen to the powerful “Sold a Story:  How Teaching Kids to Read Went So Wrong” podcast series to learn more about the infuriating history of failed reading instruction.

For more information about teachers unions, check out the IWF Education Freedom Center’s Teachers Union Resource Center.