Teachers may get only one week per year of formal appreciation, but here at OPEN we know that a good teacher can have an enormous impact on student lives, and we support any legislation that supports high-quality teachers. While teachers have the most direct access to students and one of the biggest jobs in public education, they are underpaid, under-resourced, and usually under-valued. This session, there are several bills that could impact the daily lives of teachers in Louisiana:
- SB 6: This bill authorizes a $250 income tax deduction for teachers who spend personal money on school supplies, books, equipment, services, etc related to their classroom. OPEN strongly supports this bill because teachers spend large amounts of money on supplies that should be paid for on the school or district level, but until more structural policy changes occur, they deserve some sort of relief for their expenses. This bill is currently pending the Senate Finance committee. For more information, please contact the office of Sen. Bob Hensgens.
- HB 337: This bill would provide more rights for self-advocacy of teachers in the case that they do not agree with their state evaluation, and allows them to contest the more subjective portions of the evaluation. OPEN is currently in support of this bill because it adds protections and rights for teachers. This bill is currently pending the House Education committee. For more information, please contact the office of Rep. Patricia Smith. Rep. Smith will also be attending OPEN’s Policy Breakfast this Friday, May 17th to discuss this bill further and answer questions from community members.
- HB 310: This bill would remove the grade point average requirement for entrance to teacher certification programs in lieu of successful, progressive work experience. The intent of the bill to address teacher shortages, but there is some concern about whether it could sacrifice quality in order to simply get more people certified, regardless of their teaching skills. However, some people suggest that GPA is not an appropriate measure of success and may prevent qualified people from becoming teachers. OPEN is watching this bill, which is currently pending the House Education Committee, and has invited a representative from BESE (a group of people at the state level who overlook elementary and secondary education) to discuss this bill at OPEN’s Policy Breakfast this Friday, May 17th. For more information, please contact the office of Rep. Walt Leger III.
HB 430: This bill authorizes a $1,000 annual tax credit for eligible teachers and early childhood educators. While OPEN is in support of increasing teacher salaries to reflect the work they do, we are watching this bill because we don’t believe a minor tax credit is enough, nor is it a comprehensive solution for equitable teacher compensation. This bill is currently pending the House Ways and Means committee. For more information, please contact the office of Rep. Walt Leger III.