MSTA executive director Bruce Moe releases statement on moving forward
MSTA executive diretor Bruce Moe released a statement with recommendations for how to support teachers and schools as we move through this phase of the pandemic.
Give DESE feedback on challenging student behaviors
Recent surveys have shown student behavior is a top concern for Missouri educators. You can help DESE develop solutions to this issue by answering this one-question survey.
Information from Teacher Wellness Survey
Approximately 2,800 educators completed a survey focused on educator wellness that was coordinated by the Missouri State Teachers Association and the Chapter of Missouri State Teachers of the Year. The results, which were shared with district and state leaders at the School Wellness Symposium in December, highlight the challenges and frustrations teachers are currently facing while teaching during a pandemic. While these challenges have only been exacerbated with the recent COVID surge, here are some of the key takeaways:
51% of educators surveyed said they contemplate leaving the profession often or very often
Approximately 90% of respondents shared that the 2021-22 school year is equally or more stressful than last school year
Some of the greatest sources of stress include student behavior, student motivation and substitute shortages
Teaching in the pandemic has caused educators to feel overwhelmed, exhausted, or stressed with most responding they feel that way frequently or almost always. This is not sustainable for the profession. Despite feeling this way, the focus of educators continues to be on their students. While feeling overwhelmed, and four out of five believing there is more work than they feel can be accomplished, teachers could have listed loss of planning time as one of their greatest sources of stress. Rather they focused on their students, knowing that their behaviors are signs of dysregulation. Educators continue to put their students’ wellbeing at the forefront.
Despite the challenges currently experienced, three out of four educators shared that they believe their work is quite or extremely meaningful. This demonstrates that teachers understand their why and want to serve, despite the sizable percentage contemplating leaving the profession. While MSTA is continuing to develop proposed solutions to the challenges facing educators, we must be committed to showing teachers they are valued. Our teachers should be fairly compensated and heard. Increasing pay for our educators, as well as including teacher voice in the decision-making process, are plausible places to begin.
House Committees Start Hearings
This week the House started committee hearings, and several education bills were heard in different committees. This is the first step in the legislative process.
House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee
HB1995 (Richey) seeks to give rights for parents in areas relating to education, health care, and mental health, and establishes “The Parents’ Bill of Rights for Student Well-Being”. Rights listed include the right to direct ethical, moral, and religious training, the right to enroll his or her child in a public, parochial, or home school, and the right to exempt his or her child from immunizations. The bill also requires school districts to adopt a policy to promote parental involvement with detailed procedures for objection to instructional materials and for parental withdrawal from health education courses relating to human sexuality and sexually transmitted diseases. The bill requires that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education develop specific forms that school districts must use for parents to opt out of instructional material, and for parents to be notified in advance whenever a teacher intends to teach a divisive or controversial topic. Finally, the bill establishes the “Missouri Education Transparency and Accountability Portal” which would consist of an internet-based tool to give access to every school district’s curriculum, source materials, and professional development materials.
HB1474 (Schroer) creates the “Parents’ Bill of Rights Act of 2022”, which requires school districts that receive any federal or state money to provide specific rights and information relating to minor children to the parents of the child. Required rights listed include but are not limited to: the right to know what their minor child is being taught in school, the right to visit the school and check in on their minor child during school hours; and the right to have sufficient accountability and transparency regarding school boards. The bill further prohibits schools from requiring nondisclosure agreements for a parental curricula review, allowing students involvement in extracurricular activities without written authorization, or collecting biometric data. This bill defines “curriculum implementing critical race theory” and provides examples for such curriculum. The bill also prohibits school districts, charter schools, and their personnel from teaching, using, or providing such curriculum or from teaching, affirming, or promoting any of the claims, views, or opinions found in the 1619 Project. MSTA testified in opposition to the bill. MSTA opposes statewide and federal curriculum mandates. MSTA supports the autonomy of the local school district to adopt curriculum, assessments, and programs to meet educational goals.
HB1747 (Basye) establishes a recall procedure for school board members. Members may not be recalled during the first 90 days or the last 180 days of their term. The recall petition requirements are outlined in the bill, as are grounds for which a recall may be called which include but are not limited to: conduct that adversely affects the rights and interests of the public; commission of an act of malfeasance; and moral turpitude.
Public Safety Committee
HB1481 (Dinkins) Currently, school districts may designate teachers or administrators to be school protection officers. This bill adds other designated school personnel to the list of employees a school district may designate as a school protection officer.
House Budget Committee
HB3014 (C. Smith) supplemental budget bill for the current fiscal year that included $1.9 billion for schools from federal COVID relief funding, most of which must be appropriated by March 24. Of that amount, 90 percent goes directly to local school districts.
HB1552 (Richey) changes funding for charter schools by requiring school districts to pay for each pupil attending a charter school in that district based on the formula established in the bill which includes all state aid and local aid received by the school district divided by the total weighted average daily attendance of the school district and all charter schools within the school district.