Sunday, March 02, 2008

Legislative Update

OEA Legislative Update

Extended year passes House

House Bill 3122 eliminates three of your five state-authorized professional development days and converts the days to instructional time. The bill would:

*Force teachers to work for free by taking professional development courses on their own time.

*Only designate two professional days in the school year.

*Allow teachers less time for the preparation professional development provides, while students are expected to know more and more each year.

*The bill would also convert the 180-day school year to an equivalent 1080 hours. OEA believes this conversion could provide more flexibility for school districts as long as at least 30 hours or five days of professional development is incorporated in the 1080 hours. The bill has passed the house chamber and is now headed for the senate. Please contact your local senators and let them know how important professional development is to your students' success.

Charter district bill headed for a warm welcome on the senate floor

We need you to express your opposition to Senate Bill 2100 that threatens your local association's right to negotiate a contract. The bill would allow the State Board of Education to establish a Charter District Pilot Program. Ten school districts in Oklahoma could apply for the pilot program and function similar to charter schools.

SB 2100 would allow school districts to:

*Not follow all state regulations, only a select few.

*Eliminate contract negotiations.

*Reduce standards for teacher certification.

*Eliminate due process.

This bill passed the Senate Appropriations Committee. It is up to you to slow the momentum of this very dangerous bill. Contact your senator to voice your opposition against this bill.

No More Tax Cuts

Our public schools depend on local property taxes for funding. Senate Joint Resolution 59 lowers property tax increases by at least two percent. School districts have not had operational funds increases for a few years and our state common education fund was $37 million short this year. School districts are even more dependent on local tax revenue and SJR 59 threatens to reduce local revenue to schools.

The amendment would:

Reduce school funding by reducing property tax increases from five percent to the lesser of three percent or the rate of inflation. If the rate of inflation is low, property tax increases could fall below two percent.

We cannot afford to sacrifice the long term stability of our local schools for the short term gains of tax cuts. Please contact your local senator to express your opinion.

You made a difference

House Bill 2681 that threatened to change the date of notification of reemployment from April 10 to June 10 was defeated in the committee. The two-month delay would have allowed less time for teachers to find other employment if the contract was not renewed. The bill may resurface again, but this shows your legislators are listening.

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