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. This week, I was proud to introduce H.R. 5546, The Relief for Educators To Adjust If Necessary Act (RETAIN Act), legislation aimed at retaining teacher jobs and preventing layoffs.
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 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.
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.
Teacher layoffs should be the very last resort for our public school districts that are strapped for cash. 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.
JOE BACA, Congressman
43rd Congressional District