The Senate Education Committee meeting in Texas has become a popular spot this session, with multiple hours of testimony expected, especially when vetting multiple voucher bills.
Teacher Bill of Rights
The Committee is discussing a range of education bills, including the Teacher Bill of Rights, which codifies many of the recommendations of an interim committee to address teacher recruitment and retention.
Senate Bill 9, which comes with an initial price tag of $3.3 billion over the next five years, provides an across-the-board pay raise for teachers, plus an extra bump for rural districts to bring their pay scales more in line with urban school districts, according to an article published in Spectrum Local News.
However, the line in the bill for the across-the-board pay raise remains blank, although Senator Brandon Creighton suggested that $3.3 billion could cover a $2,000 pay raise for teachers and an additional $4,000 pay raise for districts that currently fall below the state’s median salary.
More than half of all teachers in Texas schools today were trained through for-profit or nonprofit alternative certification programs. Some of those programs educate teachers on how to teach while they are on the job, with the certification program taking a portion of the new teacher’s paycheck to cover the cost of the program.
An estimated 20% of all newly hired teachers have no preparation or certification when they come into the classroom in Texas, leading to a revolving door of unprepared and under-prepared teachers leaving the profession, said Ryan Franklin, who heads up policy and advocacy at Educate Texas.
Other Provisions in the Teacher Bill of Rights
In a published article in USA Today, other components in the bill include adding a teacher quality assistance unit at the Texas Education Agency to provide early teachers with technical assistance, funding for a teacher residency program to pair early teachers with established teacher training programs and additional funds to bump the salary of “master” teachers. A separate grant was also created to defray the cost of re-hiring retired teachers.
However, other aspects of the bill are more nebulous. The bill creates a teacher time study to determine what tasks teachers are doing that are not offering a return on investment. Additionally, teachers will have to be consulted on intervention plans for students who have been removed from the classroom for behavioral issues. And those activities considered to be outside duties, such as bus or lunchroom duty, will have to be limited to no more than 30 minutes outside the instructional day.
Sen. Brandon Creighton urged those testifying to plan their time accordingly, as the hearing could last from 8 to 20 hours. Multiple Republican states are rolling out their own version of either a Parent Bill of Rights or a Teacher Bill of Rights in the current legislative session.