New legislation introduced late Friday in the House Ways and Means Committee would allow public charter schools to circumvent teacher certification laws. The bill is expected to receive a full hearing next week in the House Education Committee, most likely Tuesday. The Idaho Education Association strenuously opposes this bill, and will testify to that effect before the committee.
“This bill is a slap in the face to all of the hard-working, highly qualified teachers who have gone through the certification process, and can’t possibly be beneficial for students,” said IEA President Penni Cyr. “It allows people to short-cut even the alternative authorization rules; which are short-cuts themselves. We implore the House Education Committee not to move forward with this legislation that would undercut our profession.”
The bill would allow charter schools to hire teachers who meet any one of the following three criteria (legislation language verbatim):
a-Has a baccalaureate or post-graduate degree in the subject in which he or she is teaching
b-Worked for a minimum of ten (10) of the preceding fifteen (15) years in a professional capacity related to the subject matter in which he or she is teaching
c-Qualifies to teach the subject in an Idaho public institution of higher education
Teachers hired by charter schools under these provisions would be placed on the first rung of the Career Ladder. They would not be required to report to Idaho’s Professional Standards Commission, only to the Board of Directors of the charter school. They do not have to pursue official authorization status and they do not have to be working toward certification.
How can you help stop this loosely constructed, highly problematic piece of legislation? Contact members of the House Education Committee immediately with your concerns. Tell them:
- Why certification is important. How does it benefit teachers, students and schools? What are the potential repercussions of having uncertified teachers working with students?
- Don’t create a de facto lottery system in schools, where one class of students may get an experienced and certified teacher and another may get one with zero classroom experience.
- Let the teacher pipeline committee do its work. A group of education stakeholders, including IEA representatives, is exploring a wide-range of solutions to Idaho’s teacher shortage issue. Don’t put policies in place that get out in front of their work.
- While charter schools were established to provide some out-of-the-box alternatives, they are still public schools, and this legislation virtually eliminates accountability and responsibility that is owed to taxpayers.
Charter Petition Bill Held in Committee—Confusion Over Process, Language
A bill ostensibly designed to streamline the application process for charter schools was held in the House Education Committee Friday after the Idaho Education Association and the Idaho School Boards Association testified that they had been left out of the process and had not been given sufficient time to review the legislation. House Bill 241, sponsored by Rep. Gayann DeMordaunt (R-Eagle), was drafted by the Idaho Charter School Networks “at the request of legislators”. DeMordaunt is the founder of a charter school and a former member of the Idaho Charter School Commission.
“We need to be very careful if we start to give blank checks for exemptions to state law,” said IEA General Counsel Paul Stark in expressing concerns about the content of the bill. Karen Echeverria, Executive Director of the Idaho School Boards Association, took aim on the process. “I wish I could talk to you about the merits of the bill, but we first received it Tuesday night and our members have not had a chance to discuss it,” she said. “We were not asked to participate in the drafting process.” Idaho’s Charter School Commission was also left in the dark, although DeMourdaunt pointed out that “there has been previous charter school legislation that has moved forward without input from the IEA, ISBA and other stakeholders”.
According to its proponents, the legislation would streamline the process for the establishment of charter schools, which can take up to two years. Attorney Emily McClure, who represents the Idaho Charter School Network, suggests a universal application is the way to go. She also noted that the bill “takes away from the diligence requirement of school districts”. The bill was framed as a means to allow unsophisticated “Mom and Pop” charter schools an easier route to opening their doors, but the same rules would apply to large, for-profit charter corporations.
The IEA will be reviewing the legislation prior to its next hearing in the House Education Committee. Share your opinions about this bill with the committee, by contacting individual committee members here.
IEA Member Sonia Galaviz Honored in Concurrent Resolution
The legislature formally recognized IEA/BEA member Sonia Galaviz from Garfield Elementary School in Boise with a concurrent resolution Friday. The resolution recognized Galaviz for her recent honor from the NEA Foundation, and reads in full:
This resolution honors Sonia Galaviz for her exemplary conduct as an Idaho teacher.
Already an award-winning teacher, Ms. Galaviz recently received national recognition in
being awarded the NEA Foundation Award for Teaching Excellence.