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
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.
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.
On September 30, 2021, Advocates for Arts Based Education, the board that governs Lusher Charter School, voted to change the name of the school and set forth a process for selecting a new name. United Teachers of New Orleans fully supports changing the name of Lusher Charter School. However, we are concerned that the process adopted is designed to silence the community and to ensure that no meaningful change is made. In order to remedy the situation, Advocates for Arts Based Education must slow down the name selection process and enact ways for meaningful community participation in the decision making process.
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
On Friday, the Governor’s team presented his Executive Budget to the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget. This spending proposal will be the baseline for budget negotiations throughout the legislative session and is expected to change before being finalized by both chambers in the final days of the session.
Today, Governor Edwards announced that K-12 teachers and school employees will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine beginning Monday, February 22nd. As most of you know, LFT members have urged the Governor’s office to grant educators priority access to the COVID-19 vaccine since the State first began assembling its vaccination rollout plan.
In a statement released today, LFT President Larry Carter said “This is an important development for our teachers, school employees, and the communities they serve. Vaccinating teachers and school employees is one of the best tools we have to keep
Louisiana school districts are poised to receive nearly 4x more COVID-19 relief funding under the latest federal relief plan. This aid does come with restrictions in how districts may allocate the funds, but it is a much needed and long overdue step towards a reprieve for our educators and students who have been ‘making it work’ for far too long. We are excited about the possibilities this funding presents, but it is vital that teachers
The story of George Floyd’s murder at the hands of Minneapolis police officers is all too familiar. Just in the past couple of months, we have seen Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, Tony McDade in Florida and Modesto Reyes in Louisiana, killed by police. These senseless killings of Black people must stop. In addition, President Trump, and many other politicians have stoked the fires by encouraging violence in the language of white supremacy. He has called to crush the protests using military force, and the increased militarization of police forces across the U.S. is a danger to the lives and freedom of all Americans. All this must stop.