January 27, 2020: Educators across Fairfax County swarm the School Board budget hearing to demand the county prioritize public schools and “fund our future.” FCFT releases a budget priorities paper and new research on planning time and late career compensation and pensions. Learn more.
For the last 10+ years, Fairfax County has disinvested in our public school system. We see the results all around us:
- Class sizes are increasing.
- Overwork and work outside of contract hours is endemic.
- Teachers are often deprived of their unencumbered planning time, which FCPS policy says must be granted.
- Administrators have massive power over their staff. Individual principals have almost complete autonomy in determining how and when to enforce county-level expectations and whether to support their staff.
- Educators fear retaliation if they speak out, especially Classroom Instructional Support (CIS) staff who are on at-will contracts.
During a national teacher shortage, FCPS is facing a crisis of educator retention.
Our professional educators know that if we don't demand the things we need as educators, our students won't get the education they deserve. That's why we've developed the following list of demands.
INCREASE STAFFING IN HIGH IMPACT AREAS
To alleviate overwork, FCPS must hire more Instructional Assistants, more school nurses, more hands-on school counselors, and more behavioral specialists.
A CONFIDENTIAL REPORTING PROCESS FOR ISSUES
FCPS must create an Ombuds office so that educators can report issues at their schools without fear of retaliation.
A STANDARD CONTRACT FOR CLASSROOM SUPPORT STAFF
Our CIS staff can no longer be at-will employees. To ensure job security, FCPS must move CIS staff to a standard contract.
INCREASE PAY AND SUPPORT FOR IAS, PHAS, AND PHTAS
Pay for CIS staff must be raised to at least 50% of the teacher scale at all steps, with additional pay for additional qualifications, just as teachers do. FCPS must add more curriculum training, a mentorship program, and credit for academy courses.
A 'SUB STIPEND' FOR REGULAR STAFF FORCED TO SUBSTITUTE
Regular staff must receive a "sub stipend" - additional pay for hours they are required to substitute teach, on top of their normal pay. FCPS must also clearly define the "emergency" substitute policy, writing clear boundaries for when CIS staff are forced to cover as substitutes.
REVAMP & ENFORCE STUDENT RIGHTS & RESPONSIBILITIES
To protect students' right to a conducive learning environment, the SR&R must specifically delineate: 1) Student responsibilities; 2) Predictable escalation of discipline, and include 3) comprehensive training for teachers, students, and parents on these guidelines.
PROTECT TEACHER_DIRECTED PLANNING TIME
Planning time for classroom instruction must be unimpeachable, teacher-directed, and autonomous. Policy must clarify that this time is protected and that collaborative learning (CLTs) do not count as planning time.
So What's Next?
Your union can't fight this fight with just a few paid staff! Unions are always built on the strength of their membership.
We will only get the demands we're fighting for when YOU take an active role in organizing together with us.
If you're not already a dues-paying member of FCFT, contact us and ask to join. If you're ready to come together with your coworkers to fight for our demands and win, ask to join our Organizing Committee. We'll put you in touch with our organizers.
When you come together with other educators to brainstorm, to strategize, to figure out the tactics and actions we need to take, and to put them into action, you're fighting not only for yourself, but for your students, for your community, and for every child's right to a high-quality public education and a good life.