Monday is a Busy Day
The House Education Committee will meet Monday morning to hear reports from various state agencies and to begin discussions about the public schools budget.
Monday marks the final day for the Senate Education Committee (http://www.legislature.idaho.gov/sessioninfo/2013/standingcommittees/sed.pdf) to print bills. The committee is set to print at least 11 bills that afternoon. Senator Cliff Bayer (R-Boise) will introduce a measure to repeal the teacher Early Retirement Program. You will recall this concept was included in the recently repealed Proposition 1. Superintendent Luna will ask the committee to print a bill regarding math and science teachers; committee chair Sen. John Goedde (R-CDA) will ask the committee to print three bills he’s sponsoring, and Sen. Branden Durst (D-Boise) will also be seeking committee support to print three of his measures.
The remaining three proposals the committee will consider are edited versions of the bills initially introduced by the Idaho School Boards Association several weeks ago. IEA has met several times in the past few weeks with ISBA, the administrators association and the education chairs to try to offer edits to the measures. Though we expect some of our ideas to be incorporated into the new proposals, we hold out little hope that we will be able to support most of the measures being introduced next week. As soon as the bills are printed, we’ll share the details of each.
Immediately following the Senate Education Committee meeting, both education committees will move to the Capitol Auditorium where they will conduct a joint listening session from 4-6 PM. We encourage all interested Idahoans to attend this meeting and share your concerns about Idaho’s public schools. For those who are unable to attend, you can submit written comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or to email@example.com.
Senate Bill 1026 Squashing the voice of Idahoans
So far this session, not only have we begun dealing with a number of bills that basically recreate vast portions of Proposition 1, now the legislature, stung by the rejection of the Luna laws through the referendum process, has printed a bill that would make it even more difficult to qualify a referendum for the ballot. A referendum is the only tool the public has to reject legislation they find objectionable.
The IEA opposes this legislation introduced in the Senate State Affairs Committee and sponsored by the committee chair, Senator Curt McKenzie (R-Nampa). SB 1026 (http://www.legislature.idaho.gov/legislation/2013/S1026.htm) requires that in addition to collecting signatures from at least 6% of the registered voters statewide, referendum sponsors would have to make sure that a minimum of 6% of registered voters in at least 22 of the 35 legislative districts sign the petition.
Originally suggested as a measure to create balance between urban and rural Idaho, the truth is this bill would simply make it much more difficult for voters to place an issue on the ballot. The Idaho Freedom Foundation finds this bill objectionable and has vowed to oppose it, too.
Why are we resurrecting Proposition 1?
Travis Manning, Vallivue teacher, association member, and executive director of the Common Sense Democracy Foundation has given us permission to reprint his guest opinion, which appeared in today’s Idaho Press-Tribune.
The resurrection of Proposition 1 — after voters soundly defeated it with 371,228 votes on Nov. 6 — flies “in the face” of Idaho voters!
It’s important to understand that many components of seven recent bills bringing back portions of the Luna laws will unfairly tilt the scales.
School boards come and go. Superintendents come and go. Education trends come and go. But professional educators plant themselves and their families in a district and serve the public for decades. Legislators need to consider this as these bills work through legislative channels.
The public needs to consider that the Idaho School Boards Association, sponsor of resurrected Proposition 1, is using your tax dollars to pay for their lobbying efforts. The ISBA is bringing back Proposition 1 after voters just said “No!” emphatically!
Contact your school board members and lawmakers on the House and Senate education committees and express your view.
THE ISBA’s “SEVEN DEADLY SINS”:
House Bill 67 allows for public negotiations, holding accountable both teacher’s associations and school districts, which I say is great. But don’t declare the school board the winner at an arbitrary June 10 deadline. That allows districts to feign “good faith” with little to no negotiating whatsoever, wait out a “last best offer,” and “impose” a contract.
House Bill 68 involves tight deadlines for teachers to sign contracts, emailing them, instead of mailing.
House Bill 69 attempts to make it easier to fire an experienced teacher in order to make payroll. The bill is an attempt at legalizing “age discrimination” when there is a reduction in force.
Senate Bill 1037 proposes limiting master contracts to one year only. This is asking an organization to entirely scrap its bylaws structure and then rebuild it every single year. It erases institutional memory. Districts can currently renegotiate any part of the master contract year to year. Nothing in a master contract is locked in!
Senate Bill 1038 limits courts from hearing new evidence should a grievance or non-renewal hearing be challenged in district court. This heavy-handed measure attempts to circumvent due process rights for fair legal proceedings.
Senate Bill 1039 requires that the local association and the district prove that it represents 50 percent plus 1 of the certified employees before they can negotiate. Both groups must also show proof the contract has been ratified.
I say, “Excellent!” The IEA has proven themselves to be the best and only teacher’s association in Idaho that can effectively represent.
Senate Bill 1040 allows school board trustees to reduce teacher salaries and contract length from year to year. This eliminates continuing contracts, making all teachers at-will employees. It would also put an employee on unpaid leave for a criminal hearing: Guilty until proven innocent.
Idaho, we can do better! The Legislature needs to follow its constitutional mandate to “establish and maintain a general, uniform and thorough system of public, free common schools.” It’s not the school district’s or the school board’s responsibility to make sure districts have all necessary operational funds.