With a degree in political science and a career in education, my two passions were realized last week when I was asked to travel to Baton Rouge to testify in the Louisiana House Education Committee on behalf of educators in Louisiana. As a part of the LEAD (Louisiana Educator Advocacy Development) Fellowship with Stand For Children, I have been involved in legislative efforts to elevate educators in our state. Louisiana is facing a severe teacher shortage, for a myriad of reasons, but part of the shortage is because teachers often times do not receive the respect that other professionals are afforded in their chosen careers. Stand For Children, with the assistance and support of elected officials, who are champions of education, is looking to change that.
Stand For Children has supported Louisiana House Representative Steve Carter in the writing and introduction of two bills, House Bill 343 and House Bill 344, that will help elevate educators in Louisiana by requiring access to high quality curriculum, training and protect teachers from undue coercion and pressure during instructional time. Another bill, House Bill 625, is being sponsored by Representative Rick Edmonds, which would extend maternity leave policy to teachers who choose to expand their family through adoption. Currently, school districts are only required by law to offer maternity leave policy to educators who birth biological children. All three of these bills are just the first step in ensuring that educators in Louisiana are treated as respected professionals.
It was an exciting week for me, as my passion is to make positive change not only in my classroom, but in other opportunities outside my classroom. Testifying in front of the House Education Committee was one of the top moments of my career in education.
Not only was this a unique opportunity for myself, but my AP Government and Politics students were able to watch the Education Committee hearing live and research the bills that were introduced. A week later and my students are still following the bills as they make their way to the House floor for a full debate this afternoon. I am so thankful for this opportunity, not only for myself, but for my students to see “How a Bill Becomes a Law” in action. Learning truly comes alive through shared experiences.
All three bills are scheduled for action this week, so please consider contacting your elected officials to encourage them to elevate educators and vote YES on House Bill 343, House Bill 344 and House Bill 625.
On a personal note, it was extremely encouraging, as a citizen, to realize that my voice is important in the democratic process. I would like to thank the following elected officials for taking the time to engage educators in this important issue; Senator Mike Walsworth, Representative Rick Edmonds, Representative Steve Carter, Senator Beth Mizell, Representative Beryl Amedee and Representative Nancy Landry, among others.