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Task force suggests more prep time for teachers, fewer disruptive students and cell phones in classes

1 month 1 day 23 minutes ago Wednesday, May 22 2024 May 22, 2024 May 22, 2024 4:40 PM May 22, 2024 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE — A state Education Department workgroup assigned the task of eliminating perceived distractions in the classroom is recommending that public school districts allow more time for teachers to prepare lessons, remove disruptive students from the classroom and have students stow their cell phones during class time.

The "Let Teachers Teach" group, established in February, sets out suggestions across six areas: Professional Learning, Required Trainings, Student Behavior and Discipline, Non-Academic Responsibilities, Curriculum and Instruction, and Planning. 

It said that many teacher programs are repetitive from year-to-year and aren't tailored to each teacher's needs. The group said that professional learning days held early in the school year cut into time that teachers need to prepare their classrooms, and that uninterrupted time ahead of the school year would help.

The results were to be discussed at a news conference with the state's education director, teacher of the year and governor. More than two dozen people were in the workgroup, including teachers, administrators and a lawmaker.

"I wanted them to address the excessive trainings and onerous paperwork that they face," said Cade Brumley, the state's superintendent of education. "I want them to address that many teachers are being forced to teach from a script and calling that teaching, and (address) disruptive behavior in the classroom that are preventing teachers from teaching and other students from learning."

The panel said legislators should repeal laws that mandate certain training at certain times of the year and let districts revise their frequency and duration. It also said teachers should be able to "test out" of sessions if they can demonstrate they know the material.

The members also criticized decisions to not remove students from classrooms after they exhibit "extreme, disruptive behavior." They also believe cell phones should be put away during the school day, and say others should manage the progress of habitually late or absent students.

In its recommendations, the panel also said mental health professionals should be available for students.

"Stop forcing teachers to be mental health professionals," the report says. "Asking teachers to fill this role places teachers in difficult situations."

The panel's report also says teachers are often forced to "follow a script" rather than use their own knowledge of topics. In line with that, the members said, teachers who have demonstrated proficiency should be allowed to tailor their own curricula rather than follow a template.

The teachers also say they want to be paid for non-academic work, such as required tasks at extra-curricular events.

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