Legislation

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Senate Education Committee Discussed Impact of Hurricane Ida

On Tuesday, September 28th the Senate Education Committee met to discuss the ongoing impact of storms on Louisiana K-12 schools. Much of the meeting was spent speaking with Superintendent Karl Bruchhaus of the Calcasieu Parish Public School System to gauge the ongoing impact of last year’s Hurricanes and mass freezing event on that school system.

What is a Veto Session?

Lately, we’ve been hearing a lot about the possibility of a veto session for the Louisiana Legislature. This is pretty big news since it would be the first veto session in modern history. Louisiana has only had one other veto session under the modern constitution, adopted in 1974, and only two veto sessions in recorded history.

Summary of the Session

Legislative Overview:

The legislative session ended on Thursday, June 10th at 6 P.M. after almost nine weeks of fast-paced and often contentious debate. LFT has tracked hundreds of bills throughout the session and sent our members and affiliate leaders regular updates with the most important information.

Now that the session has ended and the dust has settled, here are the main bills that impact teachers, school employees and students. Like at the end of every session, there is cause for both celebration and dread. We end this session knowing there is more that must be done to help teachers, school employees and students, and through our collective power we will continue to work towards those goals. Here’s what you need to know:

Week 8 in the Legislature

SLTs in Teacher Evaluations

LFT has proposed multiple bills this session that seek to protect teachers from having SLTs used in their evaluations this year. These SLTs were not designed for such an unprecedented and incredibly difficult year where schools closed without notice and students bounced between in-person and virtual instruction. Unlike in other states, teachers showed up again and again for our students and developed novel, innovative ways to help students throughout the pandemic. That's why thousands of teachers sent letters to the Senate Education Committee this session asking them to ensure that measures of student growth -- which were not designed for virtual learning or pandemic teaching -- could not be used to adversely affect teacher evaluations.

HCR 107 by Representative Gary Carter asked BESE to take all necessary actions to provide that teachers should be held harmless for measures of student growth used to evaluate teachers for the 2020-2021 school year. Despite the outcry from teachers, HCR 107 failed to pass out of the Senate Education Committee meeting today, with a tie vote. Senator Kirk Talbot, Senator Beth Mizell, and Senator Robert Mills voted against the resolution.

As Senator Jackson pointed out in the hearing, the legislature has passed bills to ensure schools, school districts, businesses, hospitals, and healthcare professions were held harmless this year. Why not teachers? Join us in thanking Rep. Gary Carter, Senator Katrina Jackson, Senator Mark Abraham, and Senator Cleo Fields for supporting teachers!

Threat to Collective Power Passes Senate Education Committee

There are six school districts in Louisiana where the district and the employees have entered into a collective bargaining agreement. House Bill 256 by Rep. Tarver seeks to undermine that relationship and allow potentially exploitative organizations to extract payroll deductions from employees. These organizations could make promises to "represent" and "advocate" for members but wouldn't actually be able to make good on those promises – leaving unsuspecting teachers and support staff left in the lurch.

Join us in fighting for the collective voices of Louisiana educators and ask your Senators to VOTE NO on HB 256.

Uninterrupted Planning Time PASSES House Education Committee

On Wednesday, June 2nd, Senate Bill 128 by Senator Jackson passed the House Education Committee. This bill would mandate that all teachers receive 45-minutes of uninterrupted planning time each day. Planning time could only be used for planning, specific training, or evaluations, and schools couldn't pull teachers to cover classes or attend additional meetings during this time. If passed, this wouldn't go into effect until July 1st, 2022, to give districts time to make the necessary changes to ensure that teachers get their guaranteed planning time. SB 128 is expected to come before the full House for a vote next week.

Week 7 in the Legislature

Pay Raise Finalized in the Budget Bill

On Thursday evening, the Senate finalized amendments to HB 1, the State Budget. This new version of the budget included the additional $357 million that had been recognized by the REC earlier this month. Despite an agreement with Senate leadership, the Senate Finance Committee did not put any of this additional funding towards teacher and school employee raises.  Pressure from leadership continued on the Senate floor and despite thousands of calls and emails from Louisiana teachers and school employees, they kept the raise at the same level: $800 for teachers/certified employees and $400 for support personnel.

Uninterrupted Planning Time for All Teachers

On Tuesday, May 25th, Senate Bill 128 by Senator Jackson was approved by the full Senate. This legislation would guarantee all public-school teachers 45-minutes of unencumbered planning time each day.

While some districts do offer their teachers a planning period, it’s often interrupted with meetings or being pulled into another class. This year, more than most, teachers have lost out on valuable planning time. Not only is this necessary for lesson planning, printing materials and planning for the day, it is often the only time that teachers have to use the bathroom, drink water or eat during the entire

Action Alert: Classroom Safety is at Risk

House Bill 411 by Representative Hughes seeks to revamp school discipline procedures. While we can all support sensible, transparent and progressive discipline practices, we need to ensure that students have a safe space to learn and educators have the respect and support they need to be effective.

As it currently stands, this bill contains language that would take away the authority of teachers to maintain a classroom environment that is safe and conducive to learning for other students. It also removes the right of the teacher to communicate with the parent in understanding and addressing the cause of the disorderly behavior of the student.

No one wants to see students unfairly penalized, but we must ensure that the health and safety of teachers, school employees, and their students will be paramount.

Join us in asking the Senate Education Committee to VOTE NO on House Bill 411.

Action Alert: Fighting For Pay Raises

Late Monday afternoon, the Senate Finance Committee finalized their budget, which includes the additional revenue recognized by the REC last week. Despite commitments from multiple legislators, including Senate Finance Chairman Bodi White, none of the additional revenue went towards teacher and school employee pay raises.
 
It’s time for Louisiana legislators to step up and show teachers that their profession is worthwhile and their work is important. Otherwise we will keep losing our talented educators and Louisiana's students will continue to fall behind. When schools reopened this past fall, Louisiana’s teachers and support staff were there in the schools, transporting, feeding and teaching our children. Unlike their counterparts in other parts of the country they were there for our children despite fear for their health and the health of their families. They stepped up and did their part. It’s is time for our elected officials step up and do theirs
 

Join us in asking the Senate to amend the budget and increase pay raises for teachers and school employees.

Week 6 in the Legislature

REC Recognizes Additional Money

On Tuesday, the Revenue Estimating Conference met to consider economic projections from economist who determined that the state has more money than previously thought. They increased their revenue projections for both this year and next by hundreds of millions of dollars.

Lawmakers will now have $357 million more to spend in the current fiscal year and $320 million more to spend next year. LFT is pushing legislators to use some of this additional money to fund further increases for teachers and school employees. We can and should match the pay increase seen in 2019 ($1000 for teachers and $500 for school employees), if not exceed it.

Teacher Safety in Classroom Discipline

House Bill 411 by Representative Hughes seeks to revamp school discipline procedures. While we can all support sensible, transparent and progressive discipline practices, we need to take measures to ensure that teachers and school employees are safe through that process. As currently written, this bill could take away the provision that insists that if a student is removed from the classroom three times then a parent conference be required before the student returns.

Week 5 in the Legislature

PLANNING TIME

Senate Bill 128 by Senator Katrina Jackson was approved by the Senate Education Committee this week. This legislation would guarantee all public-school teachers 45-minutes of unencumbered planning time each day.

While some districts do offer their teachers a planning period, it’s often interrupted with meetings or being pulled into another class. This year, more than most, teachers have lost out on valuable planning time. Not only is this necessary for lesson planning, printing materials and planning for the day, it is often the only time that teachers have to use the bathroom, drink water or eat during the entire school day.

PAY RAISES

This week, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education held a Special Meeting to consider the MFP recommendation from the legislature, among other business. As you may remember, previously the legislature sent the MFP back to BESE to ask that they include more funding for teacher and school employee pay raises. At the meeting this week, BESE voted to amend their MFP proposal to match the recommendation from the Louisiana Legislature. BESE's MFP proposal now includes an $800 raise for certified 

On Tuesday the Revenue Estimating Conference will meet to re-consider revenue projections for...

Week 4 in the Legislature

Senate Bill 117 by Senator Tarver Stopped in Committee
At the Senate Education Committee meeting on Thursday, May 27th, Senate Bill 117 was modified. While we're disappointed that this legislation will no longer serve its intended purpose, the Senate President has agreed to help us pass a resolution to prevent teachers and students from being unfairly held to the usual accountability standards after learning was disrupted by a global pandemic and multiple natural disasters…circumstances outside of anyone’s control....

Pay Raise Proposal Modified in House and Senate
This week the House passed a budget (HB 1) for the upcoming fiscal year. The budget still needs to be approved by the Senate and will likely changed. The good news: The House’s budget does include money for teacher and school employee pay raises. The bad news: it’s not as much as we had hoped. The budget includes a $800 pay raise for teachers/certified employees and $400 for classified personnel. This is more than what was originally proposed by BESE in March ($400 and $200), but less than what had been recommended by the Senate Education Committee last week ($1000 and $500).