Tuesday, April 19, 2011

HB 400: Nevermind

A teacher friend of mine in Austin, a gifted physics teacher I might add, is distressed over hearing the news that HB 400, a bill introduced by Eissler in the current legislative session, will strip her of some of her salary next year.

In Austin, they have yet to be given their contracts to sign for next year, and her colleagues, she tells me, suspect that it is because the administration is waiting for news of the bill’s passage so they can offer them lower pay next year.

Current state law dictates that a public school teacher cannot be paid less than they were paid in the previous year. HB 400 "fixes" that, allowing school districts to pay its teachers less. Ostensibly this is to reduce the number of teachers they will have to lay off to stay within their budgets.

But my friend, and her colleagues, can rest easy, for a year at least. Here is what Section 31 of HB 400 says:
“SECTION 31 (a) Except as provided by Subsection (b) of this section, this Act applies beginning with the 2011-2012 school year.

(b) if this Act takes effect on or before April 10, 2011, the change in law made by Sections 21.103 and 21.206, Education Code, as amended by this Act, applies beginning with contracts for the 2011-2012 school year. If this Act takes effect after April 10, 2011, the change in law made by Sections 21.103 and 21.206, Education Code, as amended by this Act, applies beginning with contracts for the 2012-2013 school year.”
It is now past April 10th. The bill has only just been voted out of committee. It doesn’t apply next year.

And really, I have to wonder if it will stand a constitutional challenge. Teachers are being singled out as public sector employees for pay reduction. Administrators? Not so much. Or police. Or firemen. Or anyone else. My question is, doesn’t this bill, if enacted, violate the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment?

These legislators keep missing the point. Spending cuts must come hand in hand with an increase in state revenues.


Greg said...

It is a bad bill, but it does not in any way violate the equal protection clause. After all, teachers are not a protected class under the Constitution, and so all the state would have to show was a "rational basis" for its decision, and that means that :we decided it would be a good idea to reduce spending this way" is sufficient justification.

I've already contacted legislators about this piece of crap, urging them not to pass it in anything resembling its current form. But I am able to analyze it dispassionately, and have to tell you that your objection has no merit (as much as I wish it did).

Joseph said...

After years of posting proposed education laws on its school district website this year my district has kept everything mum, because they support this bill. The central office bureacrats average pay is $123,000 while the teachers make $43,000, school admin makes $82,000. It's all a scam just like Bell, California. Academic teachers in Texas need to just quit en masse and open up their own private schools. Let the corrupt school districts run schools with elective teachers and coaches.

Hal said...

What you propose, Joseph, is the end of public education, something that is the hidden agenda of the governor and these legislators. America became great because it was willing to provide a free education to its citizenry. What you propose, Joseph, is the beginning of the end of America's greatness.