Periodically someone will send around an email or Facebook post with the “Teacher Rules” from 1872 or 1915. We all have a good chuckle and move on with our lives. It has been almost 100 years since there has been a new set of rules established. It is time for a new set of rules.
What would a set of rules look like today?
If the rules are written by politician then they might look something like this.
- Teachers will have a 240-day contract. Three 80 day semesters.
- Teachers will be required to purchase all needed supplies from their own money.
- Teachers will be required to donate at least 8 hours a week for extra tutoring, for no additional pay.
- Yearly pay increases would be optional.
- Teachers will be required to attend 12-hours of staff development each month.
- Teacher: Student class ratios will be a minimum of 35:1.
- Teachers will have no say in the curriculum and daily instruction in their classroom; they will teach from what was given to them.
- Teachers will not be permitted breaks to use the restroom or have adequate time to eat lunch.
- Teachers will write an IEP for each student to insure their success.
- Teachers work day will be 10 hours per day/50 hours per week.
- Thanksgiving break will begin at noon on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and class will resume on the Friday after Thanksgiving
- The Christmas holiday break will only consist of two days before and two days following.
- There will be classes until Noon on New Year’s Eve and class will resume on January 2nd (unless January 2nd is a Saturday or Sunday)
- There will no longer be a week of for spring break. The only breaks allowed in the spring will be early release on Good Friday.
From a teacher point of view it might look something like this:
- Teachers will have a 180 day contract with at least one scheduled mental health day-off every 4-6 weeks.
- The district will furnish all supplies as needed by the classroom teacher.
- The teacher will be paid at an overtime rate (daily rate divided by 8 then multiplied by 1.5) for each hour they spend tutoring outside the 8 hour day. Five hours minimum each week.
- All additional training must be relevant and useful.
- The teacher: student ratio will not exceed 20:1 in any class.(hard cap not soft)
- The teacher may not teach more than 125 total students.
- Teachers will be allowed a minimum of 45 for lunch each day.
- No more than 5 instructional periods.
- Teachers will have two conference periods. One for personal planning and one for team/subject planning.
- Teacher insurance (medical & dental) will be paid in full by the state/district.
- The minimum salary for all teachers will be $50,000 per year.
- Yearly pay increases may not be less that than the cost of living rate but may be more.
- The state will develop a salary scale that accounts for a 40-year time span.
- The school year may not extend past Memorial Day each year.
- The first 90 days of school must be completed prior to the Christmas Holiday Break.
- Teachers that are also coaches will not teach more than 3 classes outside of their coaching duties.
- The school work day must be concluded by 3:30 each day and workday will not exceed 8 hours.
- Extra time required for lesson plans, grading papers, and required activities will be paid at an overtime rate (daily rate divided by 8 then multiplied by 1.5) a minimum of 5 hours per week will be paid.
- Evaluations cannot be based on student scores and a single observation. Administrators are required to observe each teacher frequently, at different times of the class period.
While the rules proposed above by politician might be slightly exaggerated, they are not far from the truth. The rules for proposed by teachers are more in line with what should truly be going on in our schools.
If the teacher “Bill of Rights” became law then many of the issue that have caused our schools to be low performing would be quickly addressed. Schools in Texas are trying to do too much with too few resources. The larger the percentage of low socioeconomic student the low the student: teacher ratio should be. The larger the percentage of low socioeconomic student the greater the funding per student should be.
The Equity Center published a report Money Matters, which identifies the most important reasons to enact at “Teacher Bill of Rights”
- Effective Teachers Matter
- Small Classes Matter
- Pre-Kindergarten Matters
- Interventions for Struggling Learners Matter
Better teachers, happy, and appreciated teachers mean students learn more.
The time to act is now. The children of Texas cannot and should not have to wait any longer.
David R. Taylor
25 year Teacher, Coach and Principal