Congratulations to the elected leadership team of the St. Martin Federation of Teachers and School Personnel! From left are Secretary Melissa Narcisse, Executive Vice President Tiffany James, President Toni Ventroy, and Treasurer Lynette Thomas.
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!
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:
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.
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.
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
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.