JFT Update: June 28th

Collective Bargaining Update

 
A big thank you to those who provided input on the collective bargaining survey, sent prior to the start of negotiations. Your responses were critical in directing the bargaining conversation.
 
As reported in the last update, the issues ranked in order of importance were: Evaluations, Class Size, Curriculum, Testing, Lesson Plans, Professional Development, and Duty.
 
Negotiations have been productive, with each party listening in good faith. Talks are, ongoing, therefore, it is necessary to extend the current agreement until negotiations are complete. A special session board meeting will be held on June 29, 2021 at 9am to vote on extending the collective bargaining agreement until Friday, July 30, 2021. Following that extension, we are looking forward to continuing negotiations around the priorities that have been set by you, the members of JFT.
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JFT Teacher Leader Program: Apply Today!

Apply today to JFT’s 2021-22 Teacher Leaders Program (TLP). TLP will help you learn more about our union, our schools & current issues in education. You will also study action research & complete your own research project. All JFT members - paras, ed diagnosticians, social workers, etc - are invited to apply. The application deadline has been extended to Monday, June 28.

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PSRP Technology Workshops

JFT is looking for PSRPs (paras and support staff) who would like to learn more about technology. We have been funded through AFT's Innovation Grant to host paid tech trainings this summer for PSRPs. Trainings start the week of June 21 and space is limited, so RSVP as soon as possible!

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Summary of the Session

Legislative Overview:

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:

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Week 8 in the Legislature

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.

Join us in fighting for the collective voices of Louisiana educators and ask your Senators to VOTE NO on HB 256.

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.

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Week 7 in the Legislature

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

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