Texas: State-Mandated ‘Reading Academies’ Have Overwhelmed Teachers

Teachers across the state are feeling the strain of the state-mandated ‘Texas Reading Academies’ training.

Nancy Vera, president of the Corpus Christi American Federation of Teachers, defined the academies as professional development for instructors who want to learn a new reading curriculum.

“Teachers were getting paid a stipend or some money for attending these reading academies,” Vera said. “Now all of a sudden, starting in July the state of Texas is no longer going to fund paying teachers.”

This requirement, according to Vera, adds to the strain on instructors who are attempting to help their children recover from learning loss caused by the COVID-19 epidemic.

The Reading Academies focus on primary school teachers.

House Bill 3 (modified in June 2021) mandates that all kindergarten through third grade teachers and principals attend a ‘teacher literacy success academy’ by the conclusion of the 2022-2023 school year, according to the Texas Education Agency. The group also includes special education instructors, who must finish the HB 3 Reading Academies by 2023.

Robin Boudreau, a second-grade teacher, said she began the academy but quickly realized it would take her longer than planned to complete.

“I was actually instructed that I might not finish it on time and told to drop it,” Boudreau said. “It truly is taking a second job to complete the reading academy and I’d rather get paid than not get paid.”

While HB 3 requires all kindergarten through third grade teachers, as well as special education teachers and principals, to finish the academy by 2023, school districts have the ability to exclude specific instructors from enrolling.

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