Asking the Senate Education Committee to “validate the promises made to Idaho teachers”, Idaho Education Association President Penni Cyr testified against Senate Bill 1097, sponsored by Sen. Steven Thayn (R-Emmett). Cyr expressed grave concern that the bill would take the impetus for pursuing Master Teacher Premiums out of the hands of individual teachers and put it in the hands of school districts, as well as opening the door for watered-down payouts under the program. Following considerable discussion, the bill was held in committee to give Thayn an opportunity to collaborate with the IEA and other stakeholders on language in his legislation and the overall status of Master Teacher Premiums.
The bill would have established a “local alternative” provision in the Master Teacher Premium program, giving districts the opportunity to dictate whether teachers in that district should apply for the premiums as a group or as individuals. “Each individual teacher should decide if they want to pursue the Master Teacher Premium,” Cyr told the committee.
Thayn and other legislators have expressed concerns about the potential price tag of the Master Teacher Premiums, which enable teachers with eight years or more of experience to submit portfolios that, if they meet an as-yet-undetermined rubric, they would receive $4,000 per year for three years. Cyr, along with Sen. Janie Ward-Engelking (D-Boise), reminded the committee that the Master Teacher Premiums were established as part of the Career Ladder Salary Allocation plan in lieu of a $60,000 top rung of the ladder for veteran teachers, which was recommended by the Governor’s Task force on Improving Education.
Many Idaho teachers have already begun work on their portfolios with an eye toward the effective date of the Master Teacher Premiums in 2019-20, and the IEA made it clear to the committee that the modifications, as written, would be moving the goalposts and represent a broken promise to the teachers of Idaho. The IEA appreciates the willingness of Sen. Thayn and the Senate Education Committee to listen to the concerns of the people most directly affected by the Master Teacher Premium program, and looks forward to working together to find viable solutions.
We encourage Idaho teachers to contact members of the Senate Education Committee. Please tell them your stories about the work you have already put in on portfolios with the expectation of the Master Teacher Premium program remaining status quo, as well as the importance of being respected as professional educators and the obligation of the legislature to follow-through on their promises to teachers and students.
Gun Bill Would Create Chaos for Teachers, Schools
The House Education Committee introduced a bill Wednesday that would “encourage and authorize” districts to run gun safety classes in secondary schools. RS25249-C1, sponsored by Rep. Ron Nate (R-Rexburg), would add a new section to existing code, encourage districts to set up classes where instructors would bring firearms on to school grounds. “We don’t currently get to all of the kids who might be impacted by firearms,” said Nate in his comments to the committee. Nate admitted that his legislation has not been vetted by the State Board of Education.
While supportive of gun safety initiatives in general, the Idaho Education Association has significant concerns with this legislation. “This bill would create a great deal of confusion for classroom teachers, school officials, students and parents,” said IEA President Penni Cyr. “It is not the role or responsibility of public schools to get involved in firearms instruction, and the security, logistic and philosophical concerns that would come with this legislation far outweigh any potential benefit.”
The IEA encourages you to contact members of the House Education Committee and let them know that you oppose Rep. Nate’s bill encouraging districts to bring firearms into the public school sphere.
Also in House Ed: Charter School Petitions, Waivers of Minimum Instructional Hours
The House Education Committee introduced legislation sponsored by Rep. Gayann DeMordaunt that would streamline the petition process for charter schools. DeMordaunt emphasized that she does not want a lower level of scrutiny, but rather a streamlining of the process, which can take up to two years. DeMordaunt is the founder of a charter school and has served on the Idaho Public Charter School Commission.
The Committee also introduced a bill that would allow districts to petition the state for a waiver of the state-mandated minimum number of instruction hours (990) in cases of extreme circumstance. This bill was sponsored by Rep. Judy Boyle (R-Midvale) in cooperation with the State Board of Education in response Idaho’s record-breaking winter weather that led to school cancellations around the state.
New Bill Would Exempt Lawmaker E-mails from Public Disclosure
The House State Affairs Committee introduced a bill from Rep. Vito Barbieri (R-Dalton Gardens) that would exempt from public disclosure e-mails and other communications to and from legislators. The change would impact communication legislators have among themselves and with staff and constituents, but not between legislators and lobbyists. Read more from the Associated Press.