Today, Congressman Joe Baca (D-Rialto) introduced legislation that gives local school districts greater flexibility to transfer state and federal dollars assigned to particular educational programs in an effort to preserve teacher jobs. The Relief for Educators To Adjust If Necessary (RETAIN) Act amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to allow high-needs school districts, that meet certain poverty and staffing needs thresholds, greater flexibility in transferring funding in order to hire and pay teachers.
The RETAIN Act is endorsed by the National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, representing 3.2 million teachers and education professionals.
"Teaching is one of the most important professions in our society -- yet too often, America's educators find themselves receiving pink slips due to state and local budget crises," said Rep. Baca. "We must do more to help our struggling school districts hire and retain the teachers who will make a positive difference in the lives of our young people. By giving high-needs school districts greater flexibility to transfer funds, the RETAIN Act will keep more teachers on the job and help ensure America's children receive the very best education possible."
Under the provisions of the RETAIN Act, local education agencies (LEAs) must meet certain parameters regarding poverty and teacher staffing needs in order to transfer funds from other grants and monies they receive to put towards hiring and salary costs for teacher and support staff jobs. These parameters include:
The LEA must serve at least 10,000 children from households with incomes below the poverty line;
At least 20% of the children served by the LEA must come from households with incomes below the poverty line;
Classrooms in the LEA must average a teacher-to-student ratio of 1:25 or greater;
A high percentage of teachers in the LEA must be teaching in academic subjects or grade levels that they were not trained for; and
A high percentage of teachers in the LEA must have emergency, provisional, or temporary certification or licensing.
These parameters have been put in place to ensure the proper accountability goes along with the additional funding flexibility, and to prevent school districts from simply taking away funds from programs they do not see as a priority.
"Teacher layoffs should be the very last resort for our public school districts that are strapped for cash," concluded Rep. Baca. "I am proud to introduce this responsible legislation, which can help give our schools the resources needed to protect teacher jobs and create the best environment possible for student success."