HB 174 is a bill that TARGETS teachers. It is an anti-teacher, anti-education bill that basically declares war on Idaho’s public schools and professional educators. As Senator Dave Lent stated during the Senate Education Committee hearing, this bill could very well be the last straw for many educators. Unfortunately, I have to count myself among that group.
This bill comes at a time when legislators seem intent on having Idaho win the race to the bottom in public education. At a time when the Idaho House of Representatives should be supporting education, they are instead passing bills to allow guns to be carried on campuses while ignoring the need for early childhood education. At a time when Idaho is 51st in per-student funding, the House is introducing bills to restrict public education funds even more by offering those public funds to be used in private schools. At a time when they should be taking concrete steps to address the state’s teacher retention problem, they are trying to pass bills that basically remove all certification requirements for the teaching profession.
The Idaho House of Representatives is crying foul on local education associations that asked for safe conditions for in-person learning. The reasoning, supposedly, is that our students must be in person for their mental health, yet the House is refusing to introduce any legislation to support mental health services in our public schools. Their hypocrisy shows again as they continuously chant about “local control”; but only when it serves their specific agendas. They acted to remove local control from health boards with HB 67 and 68, they took away local control from school boards with their gun bill HB 122, they took away local control from school boards with HB 329 by adding a legislative mandate for parental permission on participation in school clubs, with HB 254 they took away local control of what art could be displayed in a city, and HB 90 took the local control away from a city to change the name of a street or park,
Idaho teachers and Idaho education associations have been declared extremist by Mr. Beck. If by extreme viewpoints he means the idea that public education should be funded or that the State Constitution should actually be followed allowing for a free and uniform public education, then mark me as an extremist! If you really want to talk extremist, then let’s talk about the idea that we need mental health support and services for our students, or summer reading programs to help make up for learning losses, maybe even some funding for early childhood education.
Mr. Beck apparently has a mistaken impression of our education associations—or maybe the truth just doesn’t match his desired narrative. You see, Idaho teachers ARE the Teachers Union, and what we do is TEACH. We teach our students to be lifelong learners, we teach them Idaho curriculum, we teach them to be upstanding citizens, we teach them empathy when we feed them when they show up unfed, or cloth them when they come to school without clean clothes, or when we fight for them when they cannot fight for themselves. We prepare them for the future they want and we provide them a safe place to learn and grow.
Negotiations between school districts and local education associations are public. I wonder, did Mr. Beck sit in on any of them last year? Did any of our representatives? If so, they would have heard that the topics we negotiated were conditions like reducing class size to help our students’ educational goals, keeping our administrators in the building during the school day – which helps with campus safety and culture, forming a joint committee to study the substitute shortage issue, leave policies to include adoption, addressing severe behavior procedures – to make sure student’s educational environments are protected. On the other side of the table was the school board’s appointed team, not the board itself. We negotiated with the Assistant Superintendents, the Director of Finance, and the Director of Federal Programs. They weren’t elected or placed by the union. In fact, they’re our bosses and we risk a lot to negotiate with them. We have to trust that during negotiations both sides will demonstrate good faith bargaining and leave what is discussed at bargaining and not take it back into our professional relationships.
Mr. Beck argues that the IEA and NEA take issue with institutional racism. I am sorry that he is so blinded to what it is like to be an educator. I wish everyone was able to see students through the lens that educators use to see our students. We see promising young doctors, electricians, lawyers, plumbers, engineers, teachers, police officers, social workers, bankers, real estate brokers, farmers, etc. We see our future, we see our student’s opportunities and their growth, we see their accomplishments and their struggles, we see their success and their learning. What Mr. Beck and his supporters see is their race, sexual orientation, income level, and political affiliation. Standing up for those who cannot stand up for themselves should not be a bad thing, addressing systemic inequities that our students and our communities face should not be a bad thing. Trying to address some of these inequities with early childhood education is not “getting babies and toddlers out of their homes” but providing learning opportunities for children through research-based techniques that have been proven to greatly reduce learning delays.
If there is a “war being waged”, it is by Mr. Beck and certain representatives. They have waged a war on public education and public educators. The absolute refusal to fund our students’ education started this war, and the continued belittling and degradation of our profession continues it. If you want to know how to make public education work in Idaho – STOP THE WAR!
Respect the educators that give their all every day to help our students become everything they can possibly be. Fund public education. Give our students the schools they deserve, the education they deserve, the support they deserve. Work with teachers and education associations! Teach our students by modeling a collaborative relationship rather than a partisan, dictatorial one. Teach our students that you care about them as much as you care about your guns or your right to not wear a mask. Stop worrying about the “leftist” agenda you are so scared is being taught. I promise you; I barely have enough time to teach the required curriculum for AP Calculus!
Skyline High School Mathematics Teacher
ISU Adjunct Calculus Professor
Idaho Falls Education Association Member