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UPDATE: District responds to union complaints

Posted at 1:58 PM, Oct 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-02 17:10:27-04

Yesterday, we reported that the parish’s largest teacher union says there are no plans to join teachers in other states who plan a walk-out on Wednesday – but the union says there are still concerns.

A release from the Lafayette Parish Association of Educators says their group has no plans for a walk-out. They say they represent more than a thousand LPSS employees, including 40 percent of the district’s teachers. To read the full release, click here: LPAE-Press-Release-10012018-1

Today, the school system responded to the union’s concerns with the following statements, and also this  document: FAQS-PPP-18-19-with-Recess-Detention-1

1.  The district values the professionalism of its teachers and experiences that they bring to the classroom.  Our priority is to provide effective teaching and instruction so that all children can learn.  Through Board policy and procedures, and documents such as the Pupil Progression Plan, we do try to standardize practices across schools where possible.  We have been working closely with the LPAE’s Leadership and taking into consideration their concerns.  Earlier today, an email was sent to all teachers with proposed changes to the Pupil Progression Plan.  These proposed changes will be taken into consideration at tomorrow night’s board meeting.  These changes, if approved, will increase teacher autonomy in the classroom. (see document)

2.  During the Pupil Progression adoption process, committee members felt that it was important the mastery of standards took priority over the disciplinary consequence associated with cheating on an assignment.  As such, the committee recommended to the board a “no zero” policy for cheating.  It is a significant shift in the district’s approach to teaching and assessing content standards.  However, we realize the point of view that students should be accountable for their actions.  If the Board would like to consider reversing this policy,  district and school administrators can easily revert to this consequence.

3.   It is undeniable that teachers are tasked with numerous administrative responsibilities in addition to teaching students.  Unfortunately, the district does not have the financial resources to hire the additional staff that would be necessary to supervise students and allow teachers a 30-minute, unencumbered lunch break.

However, the union did list several concerns:

  • The union was critical of recent changes to the Pupil Progression Plan, including changes to homework and retesting. The union states that teachers are “qualified professionals” and they should be able to determine how they assess their students.
  • The union supports a change to the Pupil Progression Plan, which would allow teachers to give students who cheat on a test a zero on it. The plan was changed this year to remove that ability and allow students who cheat to retake the test. They would, however, face disciplinary action for cheating. The change removed academic punishment as a consequence.
  • The union also said that teacher planning time is “consistently overburdened with administrative meetings and bureaucratic requirements. In addition, many teachers in our parish do not receive a daily lunch break during the school day. We call on the district to preserve teachers’ planning time and provide 30-minute lunch breaks for all employees in our schools,” the release states.

The Pupil Progression Plan is a document created by most public school systems in the country, and it describes the policy by which student work is assessed and measured. The goal of the plan is to provide an equitable measurement policy for all students across the district. The plan includes adjustments from year to year.

“LPAE continues to advocate for quality public schools for every child in Lafayette Parish. We can accomplish this by providing educators with the support they need to remain in the classroom,” the release states. “LPAE believes that education policy must be rooted in the classroom with the professionals who encounter students each day.”

The release also invites people who are interested in the issue to attend the board meeting Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.