The June Newsletter

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― JUNE ―

Despite the end of school and the onset of summer, June proved to be a jam-packed month with lots of exciting developments for teachers and support staff across Louisiana.

RAISES SIGNED INTO LAW

On June 3rd the legislature finally passed a budget bill that included reoccurring raises for teachers and support staff. This solidifies step one in the Governor’s multi-year strategy to get teacher pay up to the Southern Regional Average. This only came after thousands of teachers, support staff, and education advocates, wrote, called, and visited their legislators, urging them to prioritize public education once and for all!

On June 18th, Governor Edwards invited LFT and other educational stakeholders to the signing of HB 105, which is the budget bill that includes educator raises. We were honored to stand beside him as he signed into law the first state-wide pay raises for teachers and support staff in a decade.

A lot of other issues were covered in this legislative session, which ended June 6th. To see a full summary of policy initiatives and battles, click here.

LEADERSHIP RETREAT

The second week of June we hosted the 2019 LFT Leadership Retreat. Local leaders from all over the state came together to strategize about how to build power for teachers and support staff throughout Louisiana! We had a great time working on team building, campaigning and honestly reflecting on where we are as an organization and where we’d like to be in the coming years. (We also had tons of fun on the Zip Line adventure and debating who was the bigger cheater in a game of Uno!)

GOVERNOR'S LISTENING TOUR

LFT teachers and support staff in Laplace, Lake Charles, and Shreveport met with Governor Edwards for small group discussions as part of his state-wide listening tour. In these conversations, educators discussed the incremental salary increase this year, plans for future increases, and the myriad of serious issues teachers, support staff, and their students face every day in the classroom. As most teachers and support staff know, low pay is not the only form of disrespect that educators face. There are a lot of things that Louisiana can do on a state-level to improve education and through this listening tour the governor is hearing that straight from the source!

CHECK IN WITH THE NATIONAL

This month, Congress is considering a bill to increase funding for public schools by $4.4 billion; a stark contrast to the deep cuts Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has proposed. H.R. 2740, the fiscal year 2020 appropriations bill, offers a plan to reverse a decade of disinvestment and will make a big difference in the lives of children and educators!

This bill offers a bold path forward, with so much of what we need, but it is far from ensured. Click here to send a message to your representative today to urge Congress to vote YES on the bill and also to reject any amendments that would undermine the significant investments being made to support public education, public health, and worker protections.

Meanwhile, AFT has been hosting a series of town halls with different presidential candidates so that teachers and support staff can ask these politicians about the issues that matter most. This is part of AFT’s effort to engage everyday teachers and support staff in the vetting and selection process before any candidates are endorsed. If you haven’t already, make your voice and your vote heard by completing this online survey. You can follow the process at aftvotes.org.