STATE HOUSE – Democratic Representative William O’Brien of North Providence has reintroduced legislation that would create a “comprehensive bill of rights for school teachers in Rhode Island.”
He discussed his proposed legislation with WPRO’s Gene Valicenti on Thursday morning. Listen to the conversation below:
“The teachers of Rhode Island are finding it increasingly difficult to do their jobs every single year. Under supplied classrooms, unruly students and parents, and a general lack of support from administration officials has cut into our teachers’ ability to properly educate our state’s students. My intent with this legislation is to empower our teachers so that they may educate our children and provide them with the knowledge to succeed later in life,” said Representative O’Brien.
O’Brien’s bill would amend the definition of “teacher” in the General Laws by adding school nurses, school guidance counselors, school social workers, and school psychologists to be classified as teachers.
The legislation also lays out rights that would be afforded to teachers such as “having all teachers work in an environment free from bullying and harassment from administrators, students, parents, and other teachers. “
Other provisions of the bill state that “teachers not be required, coerced, intimidated, or subjected to discipline in any manner by school administration to change a grade of test score; to not be required to use their personal out-of-pocket money to appropriately equip a classroom with the supplies needed to teach and reach students; to be provided with up-to-date technology, books and whatever else it takes to help students succeed; and to have academic freedom which shall be guaranteed to employees, and no special limitations shall be placed upon study, investigation, presenting and interpreting facts and ideas concerning people, human society, the physical and biological world, and other branches of learning subject to accepted standards of professional responsibility.”
“Teachers will have a right to defend themselves from mental and physical abuse with this legislation. As we have recently seen in Warren, our teachers are facing a tremendous and overwhelming amount of stress trying to do their jobs. Our teachers deserve to be working in a safe and stable environment and this bill will accomplish that,” added Representative O’Brien.
The legislation has been referred to the House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare and has been scheduled for a hearing on Wednesday, February 27 in Room 101 of the State House.