By Allison Allsop, LSU Manship School News Service
BATON ROUGE–A House committee unanimously advanced a resolution Tuesday recommending that all House members volunteer as substitute teachers.
House Resolution 99, authored by Rep. Patrick Jefferson, D-Homer, asks that state representatives have an “immersive experience” in public elementary and secondary schools to inform their policy decisions.
The resolution also asks that the members report in writing their findings and experiences.
In 2004, a resolution authored by former Sen. John Alario passed through both chambers. Jefferson called his resolution the “Alario fist bump.”
The resolution was heard by the House and Governmental Affairs Committee.
“I believe that you get a stronger appreciation and can create better opinions when you are a part of the process, when you are there in the trenches so to say,” said Rep. Candace Newell, a Democrat from New Orleans and a former teacher.
Louisiana, like the United States as a whole, is facing a teacher shortage. According to the National Education Association, more than half of the country’s teachers are considering leaving the profession sooner than they originally planned. This burnout is due to lack of pay and needing more mental health support and support staff.
“We hear repeatedly not only are we having challenges with our educators but finding substitutes, finding bus drivers, so it is a widespread problem and challenge,” Jefferson said. “What better way to assist in this effort than 100 members of us doing what we have been called to do, and that’s what we do every day, which is serve.”
One question is whether the lawmakers-turned-teachers will stick to the schools’ lesson plans or try to put some of their own ideas into practice.
Over the last two years, the House and the Senate have heard multiple bills about what is being taught to the children of Louisiana, and there have been major debates over how to teach racial concepts as well as issues like American exceptionalism and the Holocaust.
Parents who are upset with what the school system is currently teaching could find another issue with House members teaching it to their children.
Another challenge presented itself during the hearing. Rep. Dodie Horton, R-Haughton, noted that her school district requires substitutes to be certified. This led to some discussion on how other forms of service within a school may qualify for this resolution.
Rep. Foy Bryan Gadberry, R-West Monroe, talked about his experiences with teaching.
“I really enjoyed it to be honest with you,” Gadberry said. “Now, I hadn’t done a whole day’s worth, but you know, a couple of classes, and I think the kids enjoyed it, too.”