The topic today in the House Education Committee was charter schools, and based on the committee’s response to the topic, there could be significant changes afoot.
First, the committee approved, on a party-line vote, HB 206 (http://www.legislature.idaho.gov/legislation/2013/H0206.htm), the charter school facilities funding bill. The bill, which was developed by a coalition, including school administrators, the school boards association, the SDE, and several charter school advocacy groups, would siphon money off the top of the K-12 public school funding to make certain that charter schools would receive money each year to help offset the costs of purchasing, leasing, or repairing their current facilities. The bill even assures that virtual charter schools will be reimbursed for 50% of their actual building costs.
The IEA opposes HB 206 because it would further reduce an already strained funding source for all schools, traditional and charter.
Second, the House committee also voted unanimously to print a measure today, sponsored by the same coalition that brought forward HB 206. In their introduction of the proposal, the spokesperson for the coalition told committee members this is a “companion piece” to HB 206.
This new measure would allow any Idaho college and university—both public and private non-sectarian—and certain non-profit organizations to become chartering entities. This bill will now be scheduled for a full public hearing in the very near future.
Senate Votes to Kill ERIP
The full Senate voted 29-6 today to effectively kill the Early Retirement Incentive Program. SB 1089 (http://www.legislature.idaho.gov/legislation/2013/S1089.htm) was initially a part of the voter-rejected Proposition 1 that was repealed in November.
The proposal now moves to the House for debate.
Please take a moment and thank the following senators for their “no” vote on SB 1089: Sen’s. Les Bock (D-Boise), Cherie Buckner-Webb (D-Boise), Branden Durst (D-Boise), Michelle Stennett (D-Sun Valley), Eliot Werk (D-Boise), and Fred Martin (D-Boise).
‘Undercurrent of Despair’ In a State of Denial
With Marty Trillhaase’s permission, we reprint his editorial, published in yesterday’s Lewiston Tribune.
When the Idaho Legislature’s Office of Performance Evaluations completed its survey of 2,800 administrators and teachers earlier this year, it concluded:
“Results from our survey of teachers revealed a strong undercurrent of despair among teachers who seem to perceive a climate that disparages their efforts and belittles their contributions. The vast majority of comments … express concern or dissatisfaction with specific aspects of their work or, more broadly, with conditions surrounding the public education environment in Idaho.
… The general tone of dissatisfaction and sense of being underappreciated may … directly affect the state’s ability to ensure a steady supply of dedicated, highly effective teachers in all of Idaho’s public schools.”
Not so, says Senate Education Chairman John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene: “If I walk into this building on Monday morning feeling good, and everybody I talk to says, ‘You’re looking bad,’ maybe I start feeling bad. I think despair is contagious, as is enthusiasm – it’s a state of mind.”
Not so, says House Education Chairman Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle. The phrase “undercurrent of despair” is not justified, he told the Idaho Statesman’s Dan Popkey. “How do you discern that? … Is there a percentage we can look at? Is there a relative measure?”
As a matter of fact, there is.
Start with Idaho’s per-pupil expenditure. It’s ranked next to dead last in the country.
Continue with Idaho’s share of personal income devoted to schools. It has dropped nearly a quarter – from 4.44 percent in the last two decades of the 20th century to 3.4 percent of personal income today – a difference of nearly $550 million a year.
Don’t neglect the growing ranks of schools dependent on temporary local property tax levies or those who are saving a few dollars by resorting to four-day weeks.
And while you’re at it, take a look at the crowded classrooms and the threadbare resources.
Wouldn’t that generate an “undercurrent of despair”?
Don’t neglect the fact that Idaho teachers make far less money than their colleagues in Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming.
Or that Idaho can’t afford a teacher pay increase next year, but it has millions to devote to a tax cut for the richest corporations in the state.
Wouldn’t that give you a sense of being “underappreciated”?
What about the dearth of political advocates for public education in Idaho? Name one. It’s not Gov. C.L. (Butch) Otter. It’s not schools Superintendent Tom Luna. Nor is it even the State Board of Education.
In fact, you’d have to say Idaho’s political leadership is downright hostile to teachers. After all, they not only passed the Luna Laws – a direct assault upon the employment rights of Idaho teachers – but they seem bound and determined to resurrect many of those anti-teacher measures in spite of the fact that Idaho voters repealed them last November.
Wouldn’t you call that a “climate that disparages their efforts and belittles their contributions”?
What about watching colleagues either leave Idaho or the teaching profession entirely for better pay? Or listening to counterparts at national conferences tell them the word is out: Avoid working in Idaho? Or counting how many Idaho teachers dread the idea of their own children following in their footsteps in their home state?
If that doesn’t “directly affect the state’s ability to ensure a steady supply of dedicated, highly effective teachers in all of Idaho’s public schools,” then what does?
How about a House Education Committee chairman who is deaf and blind to the evidence?
And a Senate Education Committee leader who thinks teachers just need to take a happy pill?