TCTA impressed upon lawmakers the need to preserve teachers’ ability to remove unruly or disruptive students from the classroom as part of TCTA’s invited testimony to the Senate Education Committee on March 26, 2018. The committee met to consider several interim charges, including one on “Classroom Conduct and Teacher Support.”

PHOTO: TCTA's Holly Eaton, at left, testifies March 19 at a Senate Education Committee hearing.

While TCTA’s fellow panelists focused on the need to curb exclusionary disciplinary methods such as suspension and expulsion, TCTA cautioned legislators to consider the practical implications of any changes on classroom teachers and other students in the classroom, and to refrain from taking a disciplinary tool away from teachers without first replacing it with an equally, if not more effective, tool. TCTA attached to our testimony examples of student discipline issues we have heard from members over the years and cited research showing that teachers identify lack of administrative support with student discipline as one of the top reasons they leave the profession. (Watch Holly Eaton's testimony here. It begins at 4:21:17.)

TCTA identified the types of support needed in the area of student discipline that we hear from our members, including:

  • Having a centralized behavior coordinator at every campus
  • Use of behavior intervention specialists to provide immediate assistance for teachers when needed
  • Systems for early identification of and intervention for students struggling with social interactions and behavioral boundaries that do not place the majority of responsibility on teachers
  • Providing designated space at a campus in which students removed from the classroom can continue to receive instruction while getting help for behavioral issues
  • Expanding student discipline data collection by the state and local districts beyond statistical data regarding student removals, suspension, and expulsion. Specifically, TCTA pointed out that since student behavior and discipline is such an important aspect of school climate, state and local district data collections should include survey data about what teachers’ and students’ experiences are regarding student behavior, how student discipline issues are handled, and school orderliness. TCTA referenced several well-established and validated school climate surveys in use by states already, and urged reinstatement of funding for Texas’s own version of a teaching and learning conditions survey that was administered to educators several years ago.

PHOTO: TCTA's Paige Williams, at left, testifies March 19 at a Senate Education Committee hearing.

Teacher compensation

Another interim charge being considered by the Senate Education Committee was related to studying different compensation strategies for classroom teachers and making recommendations about comprehensive polices to attract, retain and reward teachers. TCTA testifed, emphasizing the need for competitive overall salaries for teachers and the need to address salary compression that results in veteran teachers being paid little more than new teachers. TCTA also noted that teacher experience should be valued when considering how teachers should be paid, and that, although TCTA supports various forms of differentiated pay, we do not support performance pay based on student test scores. (Watch Paige Williams's testimony here. It begins at 6:28:09.)

Given that interim charges typically signal the upcoming legislative priorities of each respective chamber, TCTA will continue to monitor and give input on these issues as they develop leading into the 2019 session.