Friday, May 6, 2016

Teacher Opinion and Rights Are Often Ignored by the Legislature!

I want to urge my readers to read this post by Ganey Arsement with the Educate Louisiana blog.
Mr. Arsement got to participate in the legislative process and to see first hand how teachers are treated at the capitol. Very often legislators give lip service about having great respect for teachers when they meet with teachers in their home districts. But what they do at the capitol where it really counts may be something totally different. For years some legislators have completely fooled local teachers by promising them full support while stabbing them in the back at the capitol.

Don't continue to be an uninformed victim! Study the issues. Read this blog and others that give you the facts about what is really going on behind the scenes at the capitol and how decisions are really made. You may be shocked to see how laws that take away the rights of teachers are made.

For example, most experts agree that VAM is one of the worst, least dependable ways of evaluating teachers. But the big business bosses at LABI and CABL are determined that they will keep trying to force school administrators to use VAM to measure your worth as a teacher. You see, in their minds, teachers are somehow responsible when parents don't do their job of guiding their children and insuring that they do their best in school. Teachers must be to blame so they must be punished. VAM is sold by LABI and CABL as the way of making teachers and principals accountable for producing student achievement without regard to socioeconomic factors and the obligations of parents and students themselves.

Sometimes the legislature has an opportunity to really value teachers by insuring their rights to fair pay for the work they do. The following is a description of an important vote of the House Education Committee that will possibly affect your profession and maybe even your personal benefits and rights in a negative way.

HB 1045 by Miller was legislation supported by LAE and LFT designed to prevent school authorities from requiring teachers to work extra hours or extra days without compensation. As the pressure builds for administrators to constantly improve student performance, some administrators are scheduling extra faculty meetings and extra training or other activities where teachers are required to work beyond normal school hours without compensation. Some administrators simply find it convenient to require teachers to sell tickets or serve other functions at football games, or other events without compensation. This bill would have allowed teachers to continue to volunteer for some activities but would have prevented mandatory attendance at extra events or training days without compensation. As Arcement explains in his blog, some of the same legislators who voted to cut teacher pay when their hours are reduced, voted against paying them extra when extra hours or days are added. This is hypocrisy! Here are the votes on HB 1045:

Vote: 4-8 
5/4/2016 12:46:06 PM 
Landry, Nancy Nay; Amedée, Beryl Yea; Bouie, Joseph Yea; Broadwater, Chris Nay; Carter, Stephen F. Nay; Edmonds, Rick Nay; Emerson, Julie Nay; Falconer, Reid Nay; Hall, Jeffrey "Jeff" Yea; Hilferty, Stephanie Nay; Price, Edward J. Yea; Simon, Scott M. Nay. 

Suspension Suppression Bill Now listed as HB 1159

An amended version of HB 833 passed the House Education Committee this week. (See post below) HB 833 by Leger has been amended by substitution and is now renumbered as HB 1159. This bill was originally proposed with the best intentions to reduce suspensions and to keep more students in school. But as you can read in the previous posts on this blog, the end result could be negative to both teachers and students, since not one penny of funding will be provided to pay for alternative discipline systems. This bill could actually result in the erosion of discipline in some schools. These points were made to the committee in testimony by myself, administrators and school board representatives. This was obviously not a clear cut issue of supporting or opposing teachers because some of the legislators who are normally true friends of teachers wanted to make a special effort to support at-risk students. I would not use this vote as a clear indication of friends or enemies of public education.

A serious problem with this bill is that it arbitrarily forces any school with a suspension rate at 150% of the state average rate for suspensions to implement a plan to reduce suspensions. Then each year the average rate is recalculated, probably resulting in a lower average rate as the targeted schools reduce suspensions. Then a new batch of schools would be targeted for suspension reduction. Such a process would practically eliminate suspensions as an option for administrators over time. This would mean that teachers would be forced to deal with extremely disruptive students in their classrooms or  that schools would have additional unfunded expenses for simply housing extremely disruptive students on the school campus. Meanwhile parents would be relieved of any responsibility for disciplining their children for violation of school rules. 

I think that the proponents of this legislation and the legislators voting for it would have a totally different attitude if they would be required to spend just one day substitute teaching in a classroom where disruption is an everyday occurrence. Implementing alternative disciplinary measures always seems more feasible if you don't actually have to do it yourself.

I am suggesting to my readers that we contact our Representatives in the House, and request that they vote "no" on HB 1159 unless adequate funding is provided to school systems struggling to work with disproportionate numbers of disruptive or at-risk students. 

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