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Week 7: Your Unions Are Fighting to Make Your Voice Heard

Your unions are fighting to make your voice heard. In addition to LFT's ongoing fight for a permanent pay raise for teachers and support personnel, we have made great strides in bringing the issues to legislators that teachers and staff have told us impact their quality of life and ability to do their jobs effectively–workload, discipline, and safety.

Next week, legislators will hear several critical bills filed by your unions that fight for a permanent raise, protect teacher’s right to a fair workload and allow teachers to teach free from disruption. We are asking you to take three specific actions to ensure these bills become law:

  • 🚨ACTION 1: SB 205  Click here to add your signature to a pre-written letter to lawmakers or edit it to share your experience asking them to VOTE in favor of fair workload and compensation.
  • 🚨ACTION 2: HB 322  Click here to add your signature to a pre-written letter to lawmakers or edit it to share your experience urging them to VOTE in favor of your right to teach free from distraction.
  • 🚨ACTION 3: HCR 21 Click here to add your signature to a pre-written letter to Senators to SEND THE MFP BACK TO BESE and demand the pay raise teachers and staff deserve. 

Send the MFP back to BESE and demand a permanent pay raise

The 24-25 MFP Formula (HCR21) passed through the House last week without a permanent raise. Instead, two different stipends were approved by the House. 

One is differentiated compensation where local districts and charters can decide, every year, how to allocate a block grant from LDOE. The $25m in funding for differentiated compensation is included in the 2024-25 MFP. Though funding for this highly debated type of compensation is permanent, it will be decided every year which teachers receive this stipend and the amount of the stipend. 

The other one time stipend is in HB 1 and was promised to have been a permanent raise this session. House leadership stated that the intent was to not tie the hands of local school systems and charter schools but to allow them to determine how this stipend is allocated since teachers and school employees are employed at the local level. Their reasoning is that the stipend should be determined by local systems to incentivize teachers in specific areas despite that all public education mandates come from the state. Unlike the stipend granted last session, not all teachers and staff are guaranteed to receive this stipend. 

An amendment added $39m to the funds allocated for the stipend in HB 1 which had been cut by $71m in House Appropriations earlier this week and requires the teacher and support staff stipends to be distributed by Dec. 15. However, it is still short of the $198m originally allocated and it is unclear whether every teacher and support personnel will receive a stipend. The reality is teachers and staff could make less income next year and in the future than they did this year.

Legislators have said that the anticipation of additional revenue by the Revenue Estimating Conference means that some things that were not fully funded can still be funded including the remainder of the stipend, however, we are up against several high-dollar bills that are being prioritized over our teachers on the front lines supporting our students. If additional funding is available, why aren’t teachers getting the permanent raise that was promised?

The bottom line is that there is NO teacher pay raise in the MFP and it will be up to local districts as to whether or not teachers receive a stipend. The only way to ensure that teachers are fairly compensated is for the Senate to send the MFP back to BESE to add a permanent pay raise in Level Four, which is necessary for it to become permanent.

🚨ACT NOW: Click here to add your signature to a pre-written letter to Senators to SEND THE MFP BACK TO BESE and demand the pay raise teachers and staff deserve. 

Our school districts are being run on unpaid overtime

SB 205 will be heard in Senate Finance this week and serves as a lifeline for teachers, safeguarding your rights to a reasonable workload and fair compensation for your hard work.

  • The reality is that our school districts are being run on unpaid overtime. Not only are teachers not paid for their work, but valuable time and resources are being taken away from teachers and staff being able to care for their families.
  • Districts must make a decision about whether or not what they are asking of teachers is worth paying them for.

There are several 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. This bill is pending in the Senate Education Committee.
  • ⚠️ 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 647 requires that any new instructional requirement added to instruction time would have to be offset by the elimination of a requirement of equal instructional time. We commend Rep. Romero for his efforts to alleviate the current workload. LFT will monitor this bill to ensure no additional amendments are added.
  • ⚠️ HB 336 Requires that the current dyslexia screening use a new dyslexia screening computer software program to be used in place of the current assessment. Teachers who are required to screen students will have to take additional professional development for the new assessment.

❌Voucher Programs

Public school funding in Louisiana is supposed to be mandated in the state budget, and cutting that funding ensures Louisiana’s students have fewer nurses and counselors, less options for after school programs, and limited access to field trips and AP courses that help prepare them for whatever comes next.

If universal voucher bills (HB 745 and SB 313) pass, teachers and staff would actually receive less income next year, and in the future, than they do currently. Voucher bills take away resources from teachers, staff, and students, and would be creating an entirely new cost to taxpayers with little to no oversight and accountability. 

According to the fiscal note, HB 745 (LA GATOR program) will result in a significant increase in state governmental expenditures. We do not have a definitive cost for this program. What we do know is that other states, such as Arizona and Ohio, have passed similar programs and are now facing a budget crisis as a result–and are having to consider paring back the programs to attempt to balance their budgets. 

High Dosage Tutoring

While LFT supports the additional help that tutoring provides, it should not be put ahead of the teachers who are actually responsible for the gains Supt. Brumley continues to tout. Based on usage data from the first implementation year of the Steve Carter Literacy Program, less than 0.8% of eligible students are expected to request participation.

Legislators alluded to an increase in the Revenue Estimating Committee forecast that would make State General Funds available to fund tutoring programs that had fiscal notes, asking for their bill to stay in Appropriations until the forecast was updated. Again, if additional money is recognized, why aren't we using those funds to pay the teachers and staff as promised?

  • ⚠️HB 267 would require public schools to provide three numeracy assessments that measure student development which is expected to be added to teacher’s existing duties requiring additional time and training without additional compensation. 
  • ⚠️ SB 288 Proposed legislation amends existing law to require expanded academic support be offered to eligible students in kindergarten through twelfth grade who fail to achieve mastery in statewide assessments in reading and math in the previous academic year.  The bill requires these students to be taught by a highly effective teacher. If a highly effective teacher is not available, the student will receive high dosage tutoring provided by classroom teachers with a student ratio of 4:1, by a staff member employed full or part time, an external tutoring provider in person or virtually, or AI tutoring support.The program is estimated to cost $59m and permanent funding of $30m is included in the proposed MFP formula leaving locals to pay the remaining $29m. LFT is concerned that in order to offset the unfunded mandate on locals, teachers and staff will have additional duties added to meet the proposed tutoring mandate. Due to the costs of this legislation, it is currently held in Senate Finance in the event additional revenue is recognized by the REC.

Let teachers teach and students learn

✅HB 322 will be heard in Senate Education and protects your right to teach free from distraction, so that the children in the class have the opportunity to learn.

When a student’s behavior reaches a point where it impedes the safety or learning process for all students, teachers must have the authority to take appropriate action and have the support of administration and parents to do so. 

HB 322 is a response to the challenges teachers told LFT they face in the classrooms–the same challenges that impact teacher shortages and retention.

In a recent LFT survey, 81% of teachers reported that more than 10% of instructional time was lost addressing student behavior.

  • HB 322 allows teachers to teach without interruptions.
  • HB 322 prohibits a principal or administrator from retaliating against teachers for exercising the right to remove a student who disrupts the classroom setting.
  • HB 322 addresses the problem of a student whose behavior prevents the other students from learning.

This bill serves as a proactive measure to help children receive the help they need while maintaining a productive classroom environment.

Know the facts:

  • While current law allows teachers to take disciplinary action when a student interferes with an orderly education process or violates school rules during instructional time, teachers are frequently discouraged or prevented from following the law which is intended to provide a conducive environment for effective teaching and learning.
  • Instead disruptive students are immediately returned to class without the help they need, sending the message that it is okay to disrupt other students' right to learn or to act out in a way that endangers other children or the teacher. This should not happen in any classroom.
  • When a disruptive student is removed from class; it does not automatically mean that the student faces disciplinary action. It does the exact opposite. The removal allows another trained adult to counsel and give individualized time to determine the root of the disruptive behavior.

Support staff injured while helping students deserve the same protections as teachers

SB 213 provides for secure and adequate time to heal from injury for support personnel who are injured while helping students.

It would provide physical contact pay for support employees that is equivalent to what teachers receive. Currently, teachers receive up to a full year to recover while support staff only receive up to 90 days. This bill provides the same benefit to support staff who face the same risks as teachers. SB 213 passed out of Senate Education and will be heard on the Senate floor.

Protecting your voice

Thursday morning, your union fought for you to receive a permanent raise and against you receiving less compensation next year. Legislators praised the bill to address the concerns you brought to us over unfair workloads and discipline. These bills were filled by your union! 

But, last Thursday afternoon, several bills passed through the labor committee which would take away the right for your union to advocate on your behalf. These bills are clearly aimed at stopping us from taking a civil, principled stand against current anti-public education and anti-public services legislation. Bills that will take away your voice.

Unions, like LFT, represent the interests of teachers and support staff who dedicate their professional lives to the children of the state. Your unions amplify your voice and support teachers and support staff in the areas that impact them the most such as compensation and benefits, fair workloads, disciplinary measures, and safety in the classroom.

Freedom of speech and freedom of association are crucial to a representative form of government. Prohibiting the payroll deduction of union dues and taking away your ability to advocate, stifle those freedoms, and ultimately weaken our democracy.

Know the Facts: 

  • HB 571 and 572: These bills threaten to silence your voice, taking away your ability to advocate for the things you told us impact your ability to support students the most–fair pay, workload, smaller class sizes, school safety, and other resources that benefit student learning.
  • HB 712: This bill would make it more complicated for you to support causes you care about and limit your ability to advocate for better conditions for yourself and your students.
  • HB 956:: This bill would make it harder for you to make decisions as part of a group. Secret ballots would prevent you from speaking openly about issues and deciding on important matters together, potentially weakening your ability to stand up for your rights and the rights of your students.
  • SB 313 & HB 919: Under current law, members of unions like ours can opt to pay their dues through payroll deduction. This is neither a special privilege nor a burden on taxpayers. It is a service that is available to credit unions, insurance companies and other recognized vendors, as well as unions.  Because most members of LFT and other public sector unions pay their dues through payroll deduction, this bill is an obvious threat to the very existence of advocacy organizations. 
  • Many teachers rely on union membership to negotiate fair wages, benefits, and working conditions. If dues deductions are restricted, it could weaken the financial resources available to the union, limiting its ability to advocate effectively for teachers' interests. This could ultimately result in less favorable compensation packages and fewer resources for professional development.
  • Unions often negotiate collective bargaining agreements on behalf of teachers. By restricting dues deductions, the ability of unions to engage in effective collective bargaining may be undermined. This could lead to a decrease in teachers' ability to negotiate fair contracts and address workplace issues.
  • Unions provide advocacy and support for teachers on a wide range of issues, including workplace safety, job security, and professional development. If dues deductions are restricted, unions may have fewer resources to devote to these activities, leaving teachers without crucial support systems.

The cons of Con Con 

HB 800, the constitutional amendment bill advanced through committee last week despite concerns of time constraints meaning limited citizen input and scrutiny, and lack of transparency, and the influence of private funding on the convention's outcomes.  

The current constitution safeguards funding for public schools, fair distribution of state funds among districts, and protections for Medicaid and public employees' retirement security. Moving these protections from the constitution to statutes would make them vulnerable to change which could have harmful ramifications to our state for years to come. 

The proposed convention would leave the first four articles of the constitution intact but delegate other matters to legislative committees for decision-making. Questions remain about the equality of representation among the 177 delegates and the resolution of disagreements between the Senate, House, and appointed delegates.

HB 800 is scheduled to be heard in House Appropriations on Monday and could come to a vote on the House floor later this week.

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