Education Committees to Hear from Public
Tomorrow morning, members of the public will have an opportunity to share their ideas and concerns about Idaho’s public school system with education committee members. The meeting begins at 8:00 AM in the Senate Auditorium. If you want to speak to the committee, you need only show up and sign up to speak. Lawmakers will make every effort to allow everyone who wants to speak an opportunity to do so. Each speaker will be given up to three minutes to share their comments. If you are unable to attend but would like to listen in, you can do so by clicking here (http://www.idahoptv.org/insession/leg.cfm).
IEA President Penni Cyr will talk with committee members about their decision to reintroduce many of the elements of the voter-rejected Proposition 1. We’ll print Penni’s speech, in full, in tomorrow’s hotline message.
We received permission to share the following editorial printed in today’s edition of the Post Register.
Now is not the time
by Corey Taule, Post Register
The Students Come First education reform package contained something for everyone to love and hate. Clearly, however, it wasn’t those details that inspired Idahoans to repeal the Luna laws in November.
It was process.
Citizens across the state did not appreciate how State Superintendent Tom Luna and Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter jammed their reforms though a Republican-dominated Legislature with minimal input from parents and teachers.
Otter said he got the message. A stakeholder task force was formed. It was announced that no meaningful education reform legislation would be considered during the 2013 session.
What happened? After just two meetings, the task force and its work are at risk. The Idaho School Boards Association introduced four bills this week that bear a striking resemblance to Proposition 1, which limited the power of the teachers’ union and was struck down by nearly 57 percent of Idaho’s voters.
To be clear, the ISBA isn’t proposing anything that shouldn’t be discussed — in time. For now, however, ISBA and the Republican legislators supporting its effort should understand they are jeopardizing the education reform process by pushing these regurgitated laws before the task force can get its feet on the ground.
The sentiment among those who opposed Luna’s reforms is that the fix is in: a task force whose mission is now unclear, taking labor issues off the table and clearing the decks for the ISBA to limit the length of teacher contracts, weaken the union’s ability to negotiate and allow districts to cut the pay of experienced educators.
Otter should defend his turf — threaten to use his veto stamp, because if the ISBA package becomes law, the governor’s task force might as well disband. Nothing it recommends on technology, funding, merit pay or teacher training will mean a thing to a citizenry that overwhelmingly said process does matter.
What also should matter is the morale of Idaho’s teachers, who have fled the state the past two years at a record pace and were described as experiencing a “strong undercurrent of despair” by a recent Office of Performance Evaluations report.
Now is not the time for this debate. Now is the time for healing wounds and educating minds. Legislators should pass only those bills needed to bridge the transition from the Luna laws to the old status quo. Let Otter’s task force get everything — including labor issues — on the table. Let everyone’s voice be heard.
Then, and only then, let us engage in a meaningful debate about how to most effectively and efficiently deliver public education, because if this is what passes for collaboration, the majority either doesn’t know what the word means or has already discarded the message the voters sent three short months ago.
Have You Contacted Education Committee Members? Your Local School Board Members?
Can’t make it to tomorrow’s “listening session” with the education committees? Your opinions matter and lawmakers want and need to hear from you. You can share your comments directly with members of the committee (http://legislature.idaho.gov/about/contactbycommittee.cfm).
Do your local school board members value the voice of Idaho voters? Do they believe that the process matters? Call your local school board members and remind them that 371,224 Idaho voters rejected the very laws their organization is trying to revive. Let them know how you feel about that.