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Week 4 in the Legislature

WEEK FOUR

Senate Bill 117 by Senator Tarver Stopped in Committee
At the Senate Education Committee meeting on Thursday, May 27th, Senate Bill 117 was modified. While we're disappointed that this legislation will no longer serve its intended purpose, the Senate President has agreed to help us pass a resolution to prevent teachers and students from being unfairly held to the usual accountability standards after learning was disrupted by a global pandemic and multiple natural disasters…circumstances outside of anyone’s control.

LFT worked with Senator Troy Carter and Senator Gregory Tarver to draft Senate Bills 35 and 117 – these identical bills were intended to ensure that measures of student growth could not be used in evaluating teacher performance or effectiveness for the 2020-2021 school year.

Last year, LFT was able to work with Senator Cleo Fields to ensure that VAM scores could not be used in teacher evaluations for the 2020-2021 school year. Senate Bills 35 and 117 would have extended that common sense protection to all measures of student growth, including SLTs. Last month, Senator Carter was elected to the U.S. Congress, leaving Senate Bill 117 by Senator Tarver as the primary legislative instrument to protect teachers from unfair evaluation metrics. Unfortunately, Senator Tarver was not present at the Committee meeting.

This new resolution will urge and request the state superintendent of education to request Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) waivers regarding measures of student growth for teacher and student accountability and reporting requirements for the 2020-2021 school year.  We will have more information about this resolution next week!

Pay Raise Proposal Modified in House and Senate
This week the House passed a budget (HB 1) for the upcoming fiscal year. The budget still needs to be approved by the Senate and will likely changed. The good news: The House’s budget does include money for teacher and school employee pay raises. The bad news: it’s not as much as we had hoped. The budget includes a $800 pay raise for teachers/certified employees and $400 for classified personnel. This is more than what was originally proposed by BESE in March ($400 and $200), but less than what had been recommended by the Senate Education Committee last week ($1000 and $500).

At the Senate Education Committee meeting on Thursday, the Committee amend its recommendation to BESE regarding raises – they lowered it in order to align with the budget passed by the House as required by the Constitution. The leadership of the House and Senate have recommended to BESE that they amend their MFP proposal to include a $800 raise for certified personnel and $400 for classified employees.

The Senate Education Committee did leave open one caveat: if the Revenue Estimating Committee determines that there is more money available in the state budget, it should go towards teacher and school employee pay raises.

Please join us in asking BESE to increase their MFP proposal and give Louisiana teachers and school employees a larger pay raise.

HB 256 by Rep. Tarver APPROVED by the full House
If passed, this legislation would allow predatory organizations to recruit members and extract dues from school personnel, even when there is a union with collective bargaining & exclusivity. This means that the alternate and potentially exploitative 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.

This legislation is designed to undermine the collective voice of Louisiana’s teachers and school employees by fracturing and dividing our representational power. It would undercut the collective voice of teachers and school employees and override local control. Ultimately leaving teachers with less ability to advocate for themselves both in their own school districts and throughout the Louisiana legislature. Before final passage, this legislation must pass through the Senate.

Join us in asking your Senators to VOTE NO on House Bill 256.

HB 494 by Rep. Mincey FAILED in the House Education Committee
This legislation was a common-sense approach to school choice. In would have reigned in state over-reach and retained local control over student enrollment. It allowed for more opportunities for students, regardless of geographic boundaries or faulty school letter-grades. After hitting a brick wall in the House Education Committee, Representative Buddy Mincey agreed to voluntarily defer his bill. He may have the opportunity to bring his bill before the committee again, but that is unlikely.  (SUPPORT)

SB 24 by Sen. Price was APPROVED by House Retirement Committee
Would increase the minimum benefit for retirees to $1,450 per month. Unfortunately, this won’t increase everyone’s monthly benefit, but it will provide an increase for those who have fallen below the poverty line. This legislation has successfully passed through the full Senate and is well on its way towards final passage. Sen. Price has expressed his intent to continue to work to increase benefits for retirees in the future. (SUPPORT)