This session has given lawmakers the opportunity to address the inadequate pay and difficult working conditions that have led to a teacher shortage crisis in Texas. It remains to be seen how the Legislature will handle salaries, with very different versions in the House and Senate, but we are starting to see progress on proposals designed to help ease the burdens on teachers. Here are a few proposals that could help improve classroom conditions:
TCTA’s SB 245 by Sen. Charles Perry, along with other efforts regarding student discipline, is designed to help strengthen teachers’ ability to remove disruptive students from the classroom, and to keep them from being returned to the classroom without their behavioral issues being addressed. Discipline problems have been cited as a top reason for teachers leaving the profession.
Bills filed in the House and Senate would address some of the additional responsibilities caused by last session’s HB 4545, which required supplemental or accelerated instruction for certain struggling students. Many of our members identified these additional responsibilities as a major cause of stress and burnout over the last two years. HB 1416 by Rep. Keith Bell passed out of the House Public Education Committee in March but has yet to be scheduled for floor action; SB 1261 by Sen. Angela Paxton was heard in Senate Education this week.
The committee substitute for HB 1416 limits the need for supplemental instruction to students not performing satisfactorily on math and reading STAAR/EOC assessments, decreases the number of required hours from 30 to 15, and increases the maximum number of students in a group from three to five in grades below 9, and from three to ten in 9th grade and up. It also specifies how parents can opt their student out of the supplemental instruction.
And finally, TCTA has been working on language in some of the larger teacher bills that would place limits on the amount of time that districts can require employees to work outside the instructional day. While the problems with HB 4545 were one of the specific causes for teachers working additional hours, there are many other types of duties and responsibilities mandated by districts that have increased teacher work hours. Under our proposal, districts could not require teachers to work for more than 30 minutes outside the instructional day for more than two days per month unless the teacher agrees via a supplemental duties contract that includes compensation for the additional required time.