As we approach the end of the year, with winter break right around the corner, we want to take a moment to thank you for your tireless devotion to your students. Louisiana’s teachers and school employees, our members, are some of the most hard working and selfless people on the planet, but you shouldn’t have to sacrifice your well-being to be an effective educator. That is why we come together to fight for dignity and professionalism for teachers and support staff in schools. We want to make sure that your love for your students isn’t overshadowed by the day-to-day minutia of tiresome meetings, paperwork, and uninspiring curriculum. You are a creative and dynamic educator and you should be treated as such. Thank you for coming together with your colleagues so that together we can fight for this profession and our students.
Whether you are counting down the days until break, or you can’t believe how much you still need to do before the end of the year (or both), now is a time to look back at some of our collective highlights.
On Thursday, November 10th the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education held a special meeting to finally vote on the long-debated changes to the high school accountability model. The proposed changes were adamantly opposed by superintendents, principals, teachers, school board members and other educational stakeholders, but supported by non-education special interest groups like the Pelican Institute, the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry (LABI), and the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools.
In particular, the changes would have de-prioritized dual enrollment courses
On October 10, 2022, two representatives from the Louisiana Department of Education testified before the Louisiana Senate Education Committee. They were questioned about the issues teachers and districts faced with the rollout of the new electronic Special Education Reporting (eSER) system.
Thomas Lambert, Assistant Superintendent Office of Assessments, Accountability, & Analytics and Meredith Jordan, Executive Director of Diverse Learners largely focused on issues of human error and "the deep learning curve." They said the issue was teachers who couldn't figure out the new system, even though it was "more intuitive and looks like a modern web solution."
Tuesday’s committee meetings began with a public hearing to receive public recommendations regarding the Minimum Foundation Program (MFP), which is the funding formula for Louisiana public schools. As expected, advocates from the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents, the Louisiana School Boards Association, and the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools testified in favor of increasing funding in level one of the MFP – which is the part of the formula that gives school districts the greatest flexibility in how they can use the additional funding.
The Louisiana Federation of Teachers (LFT) has continued to advocate for additional funding to be directed into level four of the MFP, which is the portion of the formula that funds teacher and school employee salaries. The only way to ensure that teachers and school employees receive a raise next year is for additional funding to go into level four.
On Tuesday, October 11th, the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will hear public recommendations regarding the Minimum Foundation Program (MFP) for next year (2023-2024). As we do each year, LFT will advocate for the largest raise possible for teachers and school employees.
Despite pay increases in recent years, Louisiana teachers and school employees remain below the Southern Regional Average and National Average for pay. In fact, recent state-wide pay raises have been canceled out by increases to insurance premiums from the Office of Group Benefits (OGB). This has
After receiving emails from hundreds of LFT members, LDOE announced that they would give teachers until December 16th to get all their information into the glitchy eSER system. Teachers are still required to get in all their IEPs by October 1st, the only difference is that now you're allowed to submit them on paper, as long as you re-enter the information into the electronic system by December 16th.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t help teachers who have already sunk hours into navigating a broken system and are still under enormous pressure to submit everything by the end of the week. LDOE’s
Louisiana's new electronic Special Education Reporting System (eSER) isn't working. It's the new platform that the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) implemented to track Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) for special education students. The rollout of this new electronic database has been riddled with bugs and defects that make it difficult, if not impossible for the special education teachers forced to use it.
The annual fall deadline to submit new and expiring IEPs is October 1st, but many special education teachers have not been able to input the data, despite spending hours
This month, the Governor announced his Executive Budget. Each year the Governor releases his proposed budget, based on the revenue recognized by the state Revenue Estimating Conference, and it is largely considered to be the starting point for the state budget process.
In this year’s budget, the Governor proposed a $1,500 raise for teachers and $750 for school employees. He also said that if the REC recognizes additional revenue at their meeting in May, $49 million should go towards funding an additional $500 pay increase for teachers.
This raise would be the largest state-wide pay raise that Louisiana teachers have received in over a decade, and there are already members of the legislature questioning whether or not such an amount is feasible. But the truth is, this isn’t enough. Our schools have gone through cataclysmic changes in the last couple years. Educators feel like they’re working more than ever. Teacher retirement has gone up 25% from 2020-2021 and enrollment in teaching programs is at an all-time low. In order to get out of this hole we’re in, Louisiana needs to do more than just a few hundred dollars better than what was done last year, we need policy makers to recognize the extraordinary sacrifice of our teachers and school employees and rise to this extraordinary moment in history.
Louisiana is nearly $5,000 below the Southern Regional Average, and given teacher raises that are being proposed in other states, that number is only going up. Teachers deserve at least a $2,500 increase this year and next year, along with guaranteed cola increases in perpetuity, so that we don’t fall back into this hole again.
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!
On March 10th the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) passed their proposal for the minimum foundation program (MFP) – the funding formula for Louisiana’s K-12 schools.
During the meeting, the Board decided to heed the recommendation from the MFP task force: passing a proposal that calls for an $80 million dollar increase in the MFP. The task force had decided on a 1.375% increase (or $40 million) put into Level 1 of the MFP for general classroom funding and another 1.375% increase, put into level 3, for raises. That comes out to $400 increase for teachers and $200 for school employees, spread out over the entire year - a meager raise. LFT was one of only two organizations in the state to oppose this proposal, and has consistently pushed for a larger pay increase.
In an unprecedented turn of events, the letter that BESE sent to the legislature, which outlines their MFP proposal, made a slight, but important, deviation from the task forces' recommendation. Instead of putting $40 million into level three where it would necessarily go towards raises and and the supplementary retirement benefits, BESE directed that funding to level 4, which is the portion of the MFP that goes towards supplementary allocations for specific programs such as career training experiences, dual enrollment and enrichment courses, assistance with high cost special education services, and recruitment and employment of international associate teachers.
LFT has consistently called on the BESE and the legislature to match the pay increase seen in 2019: $1,000 increase for teachers and $500 for support personnel, at a minimum. This plan requires a $101 million increase to level 3 of the MFP, which is the portion of the school funding formula that provides for employee salaries.
As the MFP proceeds to the legislature for approval, LFT will continue to work towards a larger raise for teachers and school employees during this