Dear Texas School District Administrators and School Board Members:
During the 78th Legislative Session in 2003, Texas legislators passed what has since been referred to as The Paper Reduction Act. It went into effect during the 2003-2004 school year and is still in effect.
The Paper Reduction Act falls under Texas Education Code § 11.164. Perhaps it would be a good idea to review the stipulations of this law. I have taken the liberty of italicizing a few critical points:
Restricting Written Information
a. The board of trustees of each school district shall limit redundant requests for information and the number and length of written reports that a classroom teacher is required to prepare. A classroom teacher may not be required to prepare any written information other than:
(1) Any report concerning the health, safety or welfare of a student;
(2) A report of a student's grade on an assignment or examination;
(3) A report of a student's academic progress in a class or course;
(4) A report of a student's grades at the end of each grade reporting period;
(5) A textbook report;
(6) A unit or weekly lesson plan that outlines, in a brief and general manner, the information to be presented during each period at the secondary level or in each subject or topic at the elementary level;
(7) An attendance report;
(8) Any report required for accreditation;
(9) Any information required by a school district that relates to a complaint, grievance, or actual or potential litigation and that requires the classroom teacher's involvement; or
(10) Any information specifically required by law, rule or regulation.
b. The board of trustees shall review paperwork requirements imposed on classroom teachers and shall transfer to existing non-instructional staff a reporting task that can reasonably be accomplished by that staff.
c. This section does not preclude a school district from collecting essential information, in addition to the information specified under subsection (a), from a classroom teacher on agreement between the classroom teacher and the district.
Now that we've reviewed the law, I have to tell you it does not appear that this law is being followed. When many teachers are spending hours completing lesson plans and those lessons plans are anywhere from 2-10 pages (or more because several other components have been added to many schools' lesson plans - and by the way, checklists are still paperwork), I would not say these lesson plans outline "in a brief and general manner." I don't think our legislators would, either.
It's high time Texas Education Code § 11.164 is addressed across the state before Texas teachers are buried under all of the non-essential and ridiculous paperwork.
Nearly Buried Texas Teacher.
Chris Ardis is in her 28th year of teaching, 27 of those in McAllen ISD. She is also a freelance writer. Chris is involved with a grassroots movement to transform public education called SOAR McAllen, which you can find on Facebook. You can email Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org.