The Senate Education Committee held its first meeting of the 2012 session today. Idaho Education Association General Counsel Paul Stark told the committee that the IEA objects to a new rule sought by the State Department of Education in part because the State Board of Education did not consider nearly three dozen comments in opposition to the rule when it approved the rule November 3.
The rule has to do with what can be discussed in collective bargaining. While Senate Bill 1108 used the word “including” to outline what can be discussed, the new rule uses the phrase “limited to.” Stark said this limits the authority of local school boards to decide what they can discuss in contract negotiations. The committee deferred action on the rule.
Also today, the committee heard about proposed legislation to clarify that parental input into teacher evaluations will not be required until after June 30, 2012. (Much of the rest of Senate Bill 1110, the pay-for-performance plan, has already taken effect.) The parental input aspect of the evaluations drew a flurry of media attention last fall, including this article from the Associated Press. The committee voted to print the bill, and Chairman John Goedde (R-Coeur d’Alene) said he hoped to hold a hearing on it next week.
Unlike last year, education was not among the top items discussed as the City Club of Boise held its annual legislative preview with a panel of veteran political reporters. Only one of the three reporters mentioned education in introductory remarks. That was Betsy Russell of The Spokesman-Review, who listed the upcoming November referendums against the new education laws as one factor that might enliven the session. But she ranked that below other factors including redistricting, the closed Republican primary, and the early candidate filing period for the May primary.
Worth noting: Tomorrow, January 12, marks one year since State Superintendent Tom Luna rolled out his package of reform ideas that ultimately were passed by the Legislature. All three laws will be on the November 2012 ballot for a vote of the people.
Also, a reception to honor 2012 Teacher of the Year Erin Lenz was held Wednesday. Lenz of Coeur d’Alene is an IEA member; read an interview with her here.