CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The president of the West Virginia American Federation of Teachers said it would be a mistake for Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to veto a bill that would give teachers total autonomy over their daily planning periods.
WV-AFT President Christine Campbell said increasing requirements placed on teachers in recent years is taking away from their planning time, which ultimately can hurt instruction.
“If we don’t really focus on giving teachers the time to develop those lessons, we’re not going to improve student achievement,” Campbell said.
Members of the House of Delegates and state Senate gave the compromise bill, SB477, final approval on the final day of the regular legislative session last Saturday. If it’s signed into law by Gov. Tomblin, teachers would have total control of their planning periods and wouldn’t have to go to conferences or meetings that are sometimes scheduled to those times. They could choose to go.
Campbell said teachers are loaded down with documentation and other requirements and many times they have to use their 40-minute planning periods to get that work done.
“The list of things that need to happen during a planning period have gotten out of hand,” she said. “The principal says, ‘I know you need to do this, but can you do this today?’”
The state Board of Education may ask the governor to veto the bill. Members say they will make a decision after county school districts are surveyed to see how much it may cost to hire substitute teachers who would be used to take teachers out of their classes for meetings during regular class time.
“There is discussion (by the state board) that this will hinder collaboration but I believe it’s the total opposite,” Campbell said. “They (teachers) will use the time to collaborate with colleagues and administrators.”
The governor will have 15 days to decide to sign or veto the bill once it reaches his desk.