Double-barreled trouble headed to House floor

Two anti-teacher bills are scheduled for debate by the full House on Thursday.

One is Senate Bill 8, the teacher pay-cut and furlough bill, which now has been expanded to include many of the other provisions from House Bill 400, which TSTA members helped kill during the regular session.

The other is House Bill 17 by Rep. Bill Callegari of Houston, which would repeal the state minimum salary schedule and let districts pay teachers, librarians, counselors and nurses whatever they want, as long as it is at least $27,320.

It is time once again for you to flood state representatives’ offices with your phone calls, demanding votes AGAINST both of these bills. You can use the toll-free, 800-260-5444 number.

TSTA was prepared to testify against SB8 on Tuesday, but Public Education Chairman Rob Eissler of Conroe had the bill – an overhaul of laws affecting teachers — amended and voted out of committee without taking public testimony.

Here is how the amended version of Senate Bill 8 would hurt teachers and public schools:

  • Cuts teacher salaries in two ways:
    • Allows districts to order furloughs of teachers and administrators for as many as six non-instructional days and reduce salaries accordingly.
    • Permanently repeals the 2009 salary floor for returning teachers. This would allow districts to reduce pay for all teachers.
    • Freezes the state minimum salary schedule at 2010 levels.
    • Changes the deadline for notification of contract non-renewal from the 45th day before the end of instruction to the last day on which spring standardized tests can be administered. The same change applies to notification of termination of probationary teachers. This change would give laid-off teachers less time to find new jobs for the next school year.
    • Allows school districts to declare financial emergencies for purposes of imposing reductions in force at any time and eliminates seniority as a factor in determining dismissals when RIFs are implemented.
    • Repeals a terminated teacher’s right to a hearing before an independent hearing officer.
    • Adds another provision under which school districts can seek a waiver from the 22-1 class size limit for K-4.

Most of these changes would be PERMANENT and wouldn’t expire when the budget crisis ends.

Call your state representatives NOW!