The House Education Committee heard from close to 70 Idahoans this morning in the second and final day of testimony on Senate Bills 1108 (the union-busting bill) and 1110 (the unfunded pay-for-performance bill). Some drove six or eight hours for the chance to address the panel for just two minutes. Nearly everyone spoke in opposition to Superintendent Luna’s legislation.
The committee will meet again at 8 a.m. Thursday back in its regular quarters in Room EW 41. Testimony will be taken from the Department of Education and major stakeholder groups including the Idaho Education Association. After that, the committee will probably vote on both bills.
The question, once again, is: Have lawmakers been listening?
If committee members have been paying attention, they’ll know these bills are deeply unpopular with Idaho educators, parents, and students. A sample of today’s testimony:
Parma Superintendent Jim Norton said nearly every member of the Parma High School Class of 2011 has post-graduation plans for college or the military, noting “Idaho’s schools are not broken.”
Meghan Ridley, a special ed teacher in the Lakeland Schools, said Senate Bill 1108 is oppressive and dismissive of educators, while S 1110 is an unfunded mandate. “If these bills move forward, they fly in the face of justice,” she said.
Sandpoint High School government teacher Brian Smith said it’s unconstitutional to enact legislation that interferes with contracts. Reading a letter from his superintendent and a school board negotiator, he said, “Our respect is grounded in the collective bargaining process that treats staff professionally.”
Scott Nicholson of Boise, a Republican businessman who said he congratulated Tom Luna on his re-election last year, spoke about his opposition to the Luna plan and the vilification of teachers.
Read more from the hearings via these Twitter feeds – RNettinga, slfisher, IdahoEdAssoc – and at the Eye on Boise news blog. You can also follow these sites Thursday for the committee’s final consideration of the Luna legislation.
It’s not too late to call or email House lawmakers and ask them to vote NO on S 1108 and 1110. Call 332-1000 in the Treasure Valley or (800) 626-0471 statewide to leave a message for your two Representatives, or email them.