IEA Hotline—January 31, 2020
Bill Limiting Frequency of School Bond Elections is Problematic
Legislation introduced by Rep. Heather Scott, R-Blanchard, and Sen. Lori Den Hartog, R-Meridian, would force school districts to wait at least 11 months before taking a failed bond measure back to voters. This bill passed the House on a 48-21 vote now and moves over to the Senate. Here is contact information for the Senate Education Committee.
Since underfunding at the legislative level forces districts to rely on their local constituents to approve bond measures by a two-thirds supermajority, HB 347 would further cripple Idaho’s rural and less-affluent school districts. Idaho Statesman Opinion Editor Scott McIntosh wrote an excellent piece analyzing this legislation and decrying micromanagement by the legislature.
House Education Committee Likely to Take Up Content Standards Next Week
The clock is ticking on the House Education Committee to weigh-in on the fate of the Idaho Content Standards. The committee has taken considerable testimony, both in-person and electronically, but has yet to take any action on the standards that provide the framework of what students are expected to have learned by various benchmarks in their academic careers. Facing growing pressure from the Senate Education Committee, the House Education Committee may begin debate, discussions, motions, and votes Tuesday morning.
Because the individual content standards are intertwined with other legislative rules in an omnibus bill, changing specific sections is complicated. The English and Language Arts standards, along with the math standards, are up for review by professional educators next year. The science standards were enacted more recently.
The Senate Education Committee has let their counterparts in the House take the lead on Standards. Only one of the two committees has to vote in favor of the current standards for them to remain in force. The Senate Education Committee has a deadline of Feb. 10 to introduce new legislation, which means their window to enact any changes to the standards is closing. The House Education Committee is a privileged committee and is not subject to the same deadline. Idaho Education News has a story on the dynamic between the two committees and what could happen with the standards.
Many of our members have testified in support of the standards. We continue to hold the position that the Idaho Content Standards are a net positive for students and educators and any modification should be done through the built-in review process. IEA President Layne McInelly recently wrote an opinion piece outlining the rationale for keeping the current standards.
Schedule Flexibility Bill Held by House Education Committee
A bill that would have given parents of advanced elementary students the authority to negotiate with teachers and principals for a more flexible schedule was held by the Senate Education Committee. SB 1239, sponsored by committee vice-chair Steven Thayn, R-Emmett, would still require those students to attend at least 55 percent of the time but would create more flexibility for home-schooling, family vacations, and other alternatives. Thayn noted that his grandchildren have been informally working under a similar plan in Challis, but the school district does not receive funding for the days they are not physically in their school building.
IEA President Layne McInelly praised the individualized learning aspect of the idea but expressed concerns about reliance on standardized testing as the metric for determining which students qualify as advanced and offered to have professional educators work with Sen. Thayn on revising his legislation. SB 1239, in revised form, could still return to the Senate Education Committee during this session.
Misassignment Bill In the Works
A bill that would allow for the voluntary misassignment of certified educators could be surfacing soon. This legislation would allow schools to misassign educators to other roles for one period or up to 25 percent of their workday. We have significant concerns about yet another short-term, band-aid approach to Idaho’s bigger educator shortage issue. Stay tuned for more information about this possible legislation.
Bill Would Prohibit Schools From Starting Before Labor Day
Rep. John Vander Woude, R-Nampa, has introduced a bill that would prohibit any public school in Idaho from starting the fall semester earlier than the Tuesday after Labor Day.
Pro-Tem Brent Hill Will Not Seek Reelection
A 19 year veteran of the Senate, Sen. Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, announced this week that he will not seek reelection. Hill has served as the Senate Pro-Tem since 2010.