Arkansas Teachers: Your Rights at Work are at Severe Risk
Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced on Feb. 8, 2023, some previously unknown details of her Arkansas Learns plan. This plan will take away teachers’ right to a school board hearing about their job.
It will also take away teachers’ rights to have any problems or allegations against them put in writing. It will be a major change for all teachers across Arkansas.
The Arkansas Learns plan is according to the Governor the “most far-reaching, bold, conservative education reform in America.” (https://twitter.com/SarahHuckabee/status/1623296649354158080)
The Arkansas Learns plan was introduced as Senate Bill 294 in the Arkansas Legislature. (https://www.arkleg.state.ar.us/Bills/Detail?id=SB294&ddBienniumSession=2023%2F2023R)
As we wrote about before, the bill literally strikes through and deletes the Arkansas Teacher Fair Dismissal Act. On page 59 of the bill, it reads: “The Teacher Fair Dismissal Act of 1983”
The bill also ends the “Public School Employee Fair Hearing Act” that was for school district staff.
How Do We Know Your Rights Will Go Away?
The key details of this Arkansas Learns plan contains this telling shocker:
The Arkansas Learns plan will “Repeal the Arkansas Teacher Fair Dismissal Act.”
The Teacher Fair Dismissal Act is the law that currently protects teachers.
Read more about how the Arkansas Teacher Fair Dismissal Act Works
To read more details about the plan, click here:
What is the Arkansas Teacher Fair Dismissal Act?
Right now, teachers are protected by a strong law. The law is called the Arkansas Teacher Fair Dismissal Act (TFDA). This law is designed to help teachers. The TFDA says that a teacher has to receive written notice of any nonrenewal, suspension, or termination.
A teacher may then request a hearing before the school board to get their job back. They can be represented by an attorney at this hearing or any disciplinary action.
Always remember, a teacher license can be on the line at any time in the process. A teacher’s education that was necessary to be able to do their job and help the students in their community can be at risk.
Teachers should be prepared from first contact so that if you ever end up in front of a state board defending your licensure.
What if I am not a teacher, am I still protected right now?
Yes. The TFDA applies to all employees of a school district who must have a teaching license, but not superintendents and assistant superintendents.
The TFDA law protects principals, assistant principals, counselors, and specialist employees as well.
What Should I Do Now?
If you want the Arkansas Teacher Fair Dismissal Act to stay in effect, then contact your local legislature and let them know how you feel.
**BIG 3/8/2023 UPDATE**
Arkansas LEARNS has been signed into law by Governor Sanders, but thanks to teachers and student voices, the original bill has been amended!
Pretty much everyone knew this bill would pass, but not everyone expected it get amended from its original version!
Teachers and Students alike came together to voice their displeasure with the Arkansas LEARNS bill and your voices were heard and the bill was amended with two BIG changes!
The first big change is that all public-school teachers must now receive a notice prior to being terminated from their position. This means teachers can’t just get fired on a whim because someone got mad at them!
The second big change is one we mentioned in our first video about the Arkansas LEARNS bill. In the original version, teachers were going to lose their right to a hearing before they were terminated. In the amended version of the bill, teachers will now have the opportunity for a hearing before the public school district board of directors.
Both changes are HUGE for Arkansas teachers and will go a long way in protecting the rights that teachers deserve. Congratulations to the teachers and students that spoke up and had their voices heard!