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Voting for democracy and a better life

In the leadup to the midterm elections, pundits predicted a red wave, even a tsunami, based on polls, historical precedent, and steep gas and grocery prices. But I had my doubts. I spent the weeks before the elections talking to voters and traveling on the AFT Votes bus, rolling through a dozen states with more than 50 stops. In a year when kitchen table issues, democracy and our freedoms were on the ballot, many people told me that the elections came down to a choice between, on the one side, election deniers and extremists stoking fear, and on the other, problem-solvers working to help the country move forward. Many races were close, but Americans turned the tide from a red wave to a swell of support for progress and problem-solvers. Read the full column here.

November 2022: Flawed Accountability Proposal Fails to Pass!

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.

LDOE Blames Teachers for the Issues with eSER Rollout

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."

BESE Update: October 2022

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.

Tell BESE to Prioritize Raises for Teachers & School Employees

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.

How Do You Feel: LDOE extends the deadline for eSER data, but not for IEP entry.

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.

Don't Penalize Special Education Teachers -- Extend the Deadline!

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.

Sharing more pathways to student debt relief

As the landscape of student debt shifts, and more and more opportunities allow borrowers to have their debt relieved, the AFT is using every avenue to ensure that the word is out. In affiliate meetings, telephone town halls, media coverage and social media, the union is spreading the news, and at a student debt clinic at AFT headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Aug. 31, AFT President Randi Weingarten vowed to reach as many people as possible with information that could save them tens—and sometimes hundreds—of thousands of dollars.

UTNO Congratulates Incoming Executive Council Members

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

At the United Teachers of New Orleans General Membership Meeting on April 13th,  members chose new and returning leaders for its executive council.

Dave Cash was selected UTNO President. He will be the thirteenth president of AFT Local 527 since it was chartered in 1937. “I’m excited to serve teachers, paraprofessionals, and support staff in New Orleans schools,” Cash said. “UTNO has a long history of fighting for and winning more democracy in our workplaces. We know that when teachers are at the table, students benefit.” Cash has previously served as Executive Vice President (2020-2022) and Recording Secretary (2008-2020). He will continue to work as a classroom teacher at Rooted School while serving as UTNO president.

Celebrating student loan relief

“It was like waking up and learning you won the lottery.” That’s just one of the comments flooding the AFT offices from members who are elated to be free of student debt at last. After relentless advocacy, including an AFT lawsuit against former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program that was so broken is finally doing what it is supposed to do: delivering relief from student debt for thousands of borrowers. So far, $6.2 billion in student debt has been forgiven for 100,000 public service workers like teachers, nurses and professors.