Disregarding the objections and expertise of the IEA, other education stakeholder groups and several charter schools and charter school employees, the Idaho House today took a party line vote of 55-14 in favor of SB 1248, which gives almost unlimited freedom to charter schools when they issue teacher contracts. The bill had previously passed the Senate and now goes to the governor for signature or veto. The IEA strongly encourages you to contact Governor Otter and urge him to veto this harmful legislation.
“This legislation is deeply concerning for teachers and anyone who cares about a level playing field for students,” said IEA President Penni Cyr in reacting to today’s action by the House. “The free-for-all that this could create will make it even harder for Idaho to attract and retain teachers, and flies in the face of the progress we have made through the recommendations of the Governor’s Task Force on Excellence in Education. Perhaps most troubling is the fact that once again the legislature has turned a deaf ear to the expertise of those who know education best.”
As we outlined in previous editions of the Hotline, this legislation has the potential to create two classes of public school teachers, to create employment relationships that vary from school to school and teacher to teacher, and to have a destabilizing effect on the workforce. Rep. Ilana Rubel (D-Boise) pointed out in her committee debate that she worried the bill would, “create a Hunger Games for teachers.” Those who oppose SB 1248 have expressed significant concerns that it will undermine collective bargaining rights and bring back aspects of the Luna Laws that voters overwhelmingly rejected in 2012.
Rep. Lance Clow (R-Twin Falls) sponsored the bill on the House floor, telling members, “We have to trust the local charter school boards to act responsibly.” The problem with this stance is that it is simply irresponsible and poor public policy to allow an employer to offer certain legal rights to some employees while denying them for others.
For more on the House action regarding SB 1248, which was sponsored by Sen. Bob Nonini (R-Coeur d’Alene), you can read this blog post from Betsy Russell of the Spokesman Review.