CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The state-mandated 'Texas Reading Academies' training is adding pressure to teachers across the state.
President of the Corpus Christi American Federation of Teachers, Nancy Vera, described the acadamies as professional development for educators so that they can learn a new program on how to teach reading.
"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."
Vera said this requirement is placing an additional burden on teachers who are trying to recover with their students from learning loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Reading Academies place an emphasis on elementary teachers.
According to the Texas Education Agency, House Bill 3 (updated in June 2021) states that all kindergarten through third grade teachers and principals must attend a 'teacher literacy achievement academy' by the end of the 2022 - 2023 school year. Special education teachers were also included in the group, and must complete the HB 3 Reading Academies by 2023.
Second grade teacher Robin Boudreau said she started the academy but immediately realized it was going to take her longer than expected to finish.
"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 establishes that all kindergarten through third grade, including special education teachers and principals, must complete the program by 2023, school districts do have the authority to exempt certain teachers from enrolling in the academy.