Due to the COVID-19 global health pandemic, the 2020-2021 school year was extremely challenging for students, families, and teachers. Unprecedented natural disasters, including Hurricanes Marco, Laura, Sally, Beta, and Delta in 2020 and the winter storm of February 2021, drastically disrupted the school year in multiple parishes. Students across the state were subjected to different levels of in-person instruction, online instruction, and instruction in a hybrid format of both in-person and online instruction. MORE
BACK TO SCHOOL
It’s hard to believe that summer is already ending. Many districts had expanded summer school options for students who struggled through the pandemic-year. This left many educators with even less time to recuperate from an especially exhausting year. But as always, the prospect of a new school year brings excitement and opportunity.
LFT staff are preparing to greet new and returning educators at orientations and back to school events all over the state. If you are already a member of the Federation, make sure to check in with your Local representatives at these events so that you can get all the most up-to-date information about your membership and back-to-school goodies. If you aren’t already a member of the Federation, you’re missing out. Make sure to look for us at your orientation to learn more about all that membership has to offer!
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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