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Week 11: We've come full circle

11 weeks in and we’ve come full circle 

In our first legislative update of the session, we shared that the new governor, a new BESE, and many new legislators have said they want to allow teachers to get back to teaching and make education a profession that will attract and retain the best and the brightest. We welcomed them to the fight and asked them to pass laws and policies that will truly allow you the freedom to teach and care for our students, starting with a pay raise that matches the rising living costs.

While LFT continues to fight for the permanent pay raise we were promised, the legislature has not held up their end of the deal, further destabilizing the profession. Although the budget has been made whole for another one-time stipend, we are still working to ensure that everyone will receive the same compensation next year as this year.

LFT has also pushed for teachers to be recognized for the gains that Supt. Brumley has touted, and it appears that they have in the most recent “Let Teachers Teach” recommendations. However, the report does not include anything about a permanent pay raise. Instead, it tells us what we already know–the same things that you’ve told us matter most and that LFT has advocated for on your behalf for years–fair workload, discipline, and safety

In an LFT survey conducted last year, 76% of teachers and staff agreed that student behavior was a problem in their school; and 81% of teachers reported that more than 10% of instructional time was lost addressing student behavior.

All three of the bills filed by your unions have passed through the legislature and await the governor’s signature to become law. These bills were filed by your unions as a response to the challenges teachers told LFT they face in the classrooms that impact their ability to teach and student's ability to learn.

  • ✅SB 205 safeguards a teacher’s right to a reasonable workload and fair compensation.
  • ✅SB 213 provides adequate time for support personnel to heal from injury while helping students. 
  • ✅HB 322 protects a teacher’s right to teach free from distraction. This bill serves as a proactive measure to help children receive the help they need while maintaining a productive classroom environment.

While your unions fight to protect your freedoms, legislators continue to say one thing while doing another. Contrary to more promises made, once a Constitutional Convention convenes, anything and everything is open for debate including funding for public education, the homestead exemption, retirement for teachers and public employees and a host of other items safeguarded by our Constitution.

Last week, the governor said during an event that if lawmakers are able to revise the constitution, they could unlock funding to cover the potentially huge cost of ESA programs.

While heavily amended to give BESE the authority to determine contracts, the ESA bill (❌SB 313) would still funnel a significant amount of taxpayer dollars to private schools with little to no oversight and accountability. Again we ask, if teachers are really a priority, where is the support? Providing public dollars to ESAs without requiring the same state accountability and content standards imposed on public school students is just poor public policy.

There are a few other bills that attempt to take away some of the burden on teachers, however LFT is concerned that they may fall short of really reducing the workload. 

  • ⚠️ HB 320 LFT supports any effort to lessen workload and commends Rep. Owen for his proactive approach. However, this bill allows BESE to undo changes and to impose additional requirements and will not completely offset the required training or curriculum mandates. Other legislative instruments will add back many of the training and curriculum requirements this bill removed. 
  • ⚠️ HB 115 Removes instructional requirements in grades K-3 for: Child assault and awareness prevention, litter prevention, mental health, water safety, internet and cell phone safety, eating disorder, substance abuse, and topics related to freedom for “Celebrate Freedom Week”.
  • ⚠️ HB 336 Requires that the current dyslexia screening use a new dyslexia screening computer software program in place of the current assessment. Teachers who are required to screen students will have to take additional professional development for the new assessment.
  • ⚠️ SB 508 Provides for high dosage tutoring for kindergarten through fifth grade students who either performed below grade level on a literacy or numeracy screener in the current academic year or failed to achieve mastery on statewide assessments in reading and math in the previous academic year. For those targeted students who do not have access to a highly effective teacher, high dosage tutoring is required and can include requiring a classroom teacher to provide tutoring in a small group session with a teacher to student ratio not higher than 1:4. This bill could also require that fourth and fifth grade teachers who have not completed the Science of Reading training to undergo 55-60 hours of additional training and kindergarten thru third grade teachers to complete numeracy training that fourth thru eighth grade teachers will have to complete by May 2026.

High Dosage Tutoring–SB 508 substitute bill for SB 288 

While LFT acknowledges the value of tutoring as supplementary support, it should not be prioritized over the teachers who are actually responsible for the post-pandemic academic gains.

The reality is that only 2,000 students participated in the pilot programs, while the majority of the 500,000 students benefited from the extraordinary efforts of dedicated educators.

The allocated $30 million was designated under Level 4 of the MFP, which signifies permanent funding. However, it's crucial to note that this funding, as per LDOE testimony in the Senate Finance Committee, will be distributed to districts in block grants. It's not mandated to be USED ON THOSE STUDENTS WHO ARE IDENTIFIED AS IN NEED OF HIGH DOSAGE TUTORING. Ironically, Level 4 is where the permanent pay raise for teachers would have gone had BESE and the House of Representative made good on last session’s promise of a permanent raise. 

🔴And here we are again–if highly effective teachers are considered the equal of high dosage tutoring, why are we not prioritizing teacher pay to attract and retain the best and the brightest instead of increasing teacher workload or online tutoring options?  

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