On Wednesday, March 9th the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approved the recommendation from the MFP Task Force regarding school funding and educator pay. The proposal calls for a $1,500 pay increase for certified staff and $750 for non-certificated support staff. It also provides for a $2,000 stipend for each certified mentor teacher.
BESE did not include an increase to Level 1 of the MFP, which provides for general per-pupil funding. This is largely because schools are getting $4 billion in federal aid to help combat the coronavirus pandemic, and educational leaders felt that the legislature would be unwilling to support increases to school funding while much of the federal money remains available.
The MFP proposal reflects what the Governor proposed in his executive budget and the LDOE proposed budget. Also included within the MFP proposal is a letter from BESE to the Legislature. In the letter, BESE urges that any additional funds recognized by the Revenue Estimating Conference in May be allocated for additional salary increases. In the event that the REC recognizes additional funding, BESE requests that the Legislature return the MFP formula to BESE so that they may revise and resubmit the formula to increase the pay raise to a minimum of $2,000 for certificated staff and $1,000 for non-certificated support staff.
LFT President Larry Carter testified before BESE asking the Board to increase the MFP formula to provide a larger pay increase for teachers and school support staff. Specifically, he asked for a pay increase of at least $2,500 for teachers and $1,250 for support staff. In his testimony, President Carter discussed Louisiana’s past pay increases and highlighted that in recent years, all states in the Southern Region have given larger raises than Louisiana. While the proposed pay increase would be the largest that teachers and support staff have seen in over a decade, it still falls short.
“Louisiana has been shortchanging teachers for over a decade and it has led to the crippling teacher shortage that we’re currently seeing. Our schools are in crisis, there’s no other way to put it. We have custodians covering classes because there aren’t enough staff. Each day, more teachers are getting burnt out by their ever-expanding responsibilities. They’re seeing how much more they can make by changing professions or leaving the state.
We must fix this problem now, and bring relief to our teachers, or the staffing shortages will only get worse. And no, despite what I’ve heard from some members of this board, simply allowing retirees to return to the classroom will not fix the problem. We must fundamentally rethink how we value the teaching profession in this state, or our children’s education will suffer the consequences well into the future.” – LFT President Larry Carter
It is important to remember that at the MFP Task Force meeting in February, the original MFP recommendation presented by the LDOE did not call for further pay increases for non-certified support staff. If the legislature recognizes additional revenue, the LDOE was content to increase the raise for teachers to $2,000, but leave the pay increase for support staff at only $750. It was only because of pushback from LFT and other educational stakeholders that the committee agreed to revise the pay increase for both teachers and support staff, if the REC recognizes additional money in May.
Now, the MFP Proposal will be transmitted to the Louisiana Legislature. The Legislature cannot change the formula; it only has the power to approve it as is or send it back to BESE for revisal. Before the pay raise can be finalized, the Legislature must approve the MFP Resolution in legislation and fully fund the it in the budget.
We hope that the REC will recognize additional revenue in May. At that time, it will be up to legislators to determine whether or not that additional revenue will be used to increase teacher and school employee pay. If legislators support additional pay increases, they will return the MFP to BESE so that BESE can increase their proposal. Then, the MFP would return to the legislature for approval.
Nothing is guaranteed. We must continue to highlight how important it is for the legislature to fund the largest possible pay increases for teachers and support staff. In order to get to the Southern Regional average, we must pass a pay increase of at least $2,500 this year and $2,500 next year and we cannot exclude school support staff.
On Tuesday, the Board heard a presentation from the LDOE about the ongoing teacher shortage. Historically, LDOE has not tracked staffing vacancies in Louisiana schools, but this year, they conducted a state-wide survey. The results confirmed what we already know: our schools are experiencing large shortages across the state.
In total, the LDOE estimates nearly 3,000 statewide staffing vacancies. They found that, charter schools, schools that are labeled “low-performing,” and those in larger school districts, reported the largest staffing shortages. Classroom teachers and bus drivers are reportedly the most difficult positions to fill.
Importantly, districts were asked what strategies they are utilizing to address their staffing shortages and the top response was that they are “asking current employees to take on additional responsibilities.” Teachers and school support employees won’t be surprised by these results, they have been experiencing this firsthand for years, but it is not a viable solution to the teacher shortage. The practice of piling more and more onto our teachers’ plates will only cause further burning and ultimately result in a more drastic staff shortage.
Only 25% of districts have tried using “high, competitive salaries” to solve the staffing shortages and because of Louisiana’s ESSA Plan, no district was allowed to implement changes to the accountability system. The LDOE report did not even ask districts about using planning time more effectively or reducing teacher responsibilities in order to allow them more time to do the important work of teaching and preparing for class. For example, the survey did not ask districts about superfluous meetings or additional supports they offer to educations to help with their additional responsibilities.
This is not a recipe for success. On the contrary, it is likely to lead to more teacher burnout and increased shortages! This state must fundamentally rethink how we respect and value our educators before it's too late or our students will suffer the consequences.
You can see the full LDOE presentation here: http://la.aft.org/sites/default/files/agii_vacancysurveyupdate_march_20…
NATIONAL BOARD CERTIFIED TEACHERS
On Wednesday, BESE held a special ceremony to recognize Louisiana’s National Board Certified Teachers (NBCTs). National Board Certification is the most respected professional certification available in education and provides numerous benefits to teachers, students and schools. It was designed by educators, for educators in order to develop, retain and recognize accomplished teachers and to generate ongoing improvement in schools nationwide.
Only 5% of Louisiana’s teaching force currently holds a National Board Certification. Every teacher that was being awarded with a certification or recertification this year was honored at the Board meeting on Wednesday. To learn more about NBC, please visit nbpts.org