Members of the House Education Committee approved HB 65, the bill that restores more than $30 million in funding to public schools for the remainder of the current fiscal year. The IEA strongly supports this legislative repair that effectively holds school districts harmless by reversing many of the changes introduced in 2011 to fund the Luna laws.
Sponsored by Rep. Reed DeMordaunt (R-Eagle) and Senator John Goedde(R-CDA), this one-year fix restores funding for additional math and science teachers who are already employed in districts throughout the state, pays for dual credit courses for students who are already enrolled in courses, moves almost $2.5 million that was originally intended to be spent for laptop computers into technology-related professional development for teachers, and restores funding for stipends to teachers who have achieved National Board certification.
Portions of the three propositions that were rejected in November significantly altered school funding to pay for things such as laptops for high school students and teacher pay for performance. Without legislative action, school districts faced a potential loss of millions of dollars.
Typically, when a bill is sponsored and no one opposes the measure, the committee quickly dispenses with discussion and passes the bill. However, that did not sit well with at least one legislator this morning. When it became clear that no one from the public nor any organization planned to speak about the bill, Rep. Pete Nielsen (R-Mt Home) told the committee, “I ‘m a little bit surprised that we don’t have some people coming in here and saying thank you.”
The IEA is grateful that school districts will not be held responsible for actions taken by the legislature and subsequently rejected by popular vote. We can only hope that this bill will move quickly through the process and be signed by Governor Otter so that cash-strapped districts have the security of knowing they can afford to pay their bills for the remainder of this fiscal year.
Targeting Teachers is Absurd
The Editorial Board of the Idaho State Journal granted us permission to reprint the following editorial, which appeared in yesterday’s paper.
Public education in Idaho needs help. In some important categories, our state ranks at or near the bottom nationally. In terms of our high schoolers advancing on to college, student test scores, education funding and teacher pay Idaho’s data looks a lot like we’re all living in Appalachia.
But Idaho’s not in the Deep South. We’re in the Pacific Northwest, surrounded by states that quite simply have better public education systems than we do.
Those of us who call Idaho home clearly want to improve our schools and our leaders in Boise should be thinking the same thing.
Where we tend to disagree is in the content and direction of those reforms.
Do we need to improve student achievement, provide better technology in our schools and make sure Idaho has the best teachers possible?
You bet, and those are the broad topics that everyone agrees on.
Why then do many of our leaders in Boise feel so compelled to use this need for education reform as an excuse to go after the way our public teachers are paid and negotiate their contracts?
One byproduct of the failed Students Come First legislation is that it devastated Idaho teacher morale, mainly because some of the new laws were blatant efforts to cut teacher pay, reduce their numbers, bust the teachers union and reduce teacher input into educational decisions.
The belief of most Idahoans is when it comes to making our state’s education system better, doing things to further deteriorate teacher morale should be avoided.
The flight of teachers from the Gem State is well documented and it’s a trend we should all be trying hard to reverse.
Many of those in Boise — more specifically, many Republicans in the Idaho House and Senate — obviously feel differently. They want to double down on the failed Students Come First legislation — especially the aspect of those reforms that really took aim at our teachers.
This is despite the fact Idahoans widely rejected 100 percent of the Students Come First plan this past November, even the legislation targeting teacher pay and contracts that has been resurrected this legislative session in Boise.
We all agree that we don’t want a situation in which the only people willing to teach in Idaho are educators who couldn’t find work in other states or folks who couldn’t get any other job.
Our lawmakers and state education officials have a golden opportunity to reform the state’s education system in a meaningful way. We all see the need for improvement.
Squandering this opportunity for reform by deciding to fight a pitched battle against the state’s teachers — again — would be a big mistake.
Any legislator or official who for whatever absurd reason can’t see the folly in devaluing our teachers quite frankly does not deserve to represent us.
“Civility Costs Nothing and Buys Everything”
This quote from English writer Mary Wortley Montagu is worth repeating.
As frustrated as you might be with the actions individual legislators take or the decisions the entire body makes, it is important to remain civil.
While it may appear that some lawmakers have already made up their minds about issues, personal attacks, rudeness, or outright threats do nothing to help you make your point on the issue that’s important to you today; and, they make it more difficult for you to be taken seriously the next time you contact a lawmaker about the next important issue.
Please do continue to write your legislator about your concerns. But, in doing so, we urge you to attack the problem, not the person.