The House Education Committee approved SB 1248, which would allow public charter schools to use contracts for teachers other than the standard teacher contract approved by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. The bill has already made its way through the Senate, and now heads to the House floor. We encourage you to contact your state representative and share your concerns about this bill, which could be described as a recycling of the more troubling aspects of the Luna Laws—which Idaho voters overwhelmingly rejected.
Three members of the committee voted against the bill, including Rep. Ilana Rubel (D-Boise), who correctly identified some of its ominous implications. “This could create a Hunger Games scenario for our teachers,” she said. “We care about collective bargaining for good reasons and we should think very hard before we jettison that practice. This seems to me to be more than just the camel’s nose under the tent when it comes to collective bargaining.”
The IEA opposes this legislation, and General Counsel Paul Stark testified against it during the committee hearing. SB 1248 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. As Stark noted in his testimony, this legislation is counterintuitive to the concept of Idaho attracting and retaining quality teachers, which is a stated goal of the Governor’s Task Force on Excellence in Education.
SB 1248 is sponsored by Sen. Bob Nonini (R-Coeur d’Alene), who emphasized that it is not mandatory for charter schools to change their contracting procedures. The bill was supported by the Idaho Charter Schools Network, but only 12 of Idaho’s 48 charter schools are on record as supporting it, and several have publicly opposed it.
JFAC to Set Education Budget Monday
Despite a call to slow down and wait for all of the education policy bills to work their way through the legislature, the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee will move forward and set the FY public schools budget on Monday. Though drafts of the budget are never shared prior to the committee meeting, we continue to hear that Career Ladder will be fully funded and that operational funding will be restored to 2009 levels.
However, there are some key elements still in limbo. Increased funding for leadership premiums, which are an additional component of teacher compensation, as well as an early literacy initiative are among the bills still awaiting action from the full legislature. JFAC has indicated that they will deal with those pieces through “trailer bills.” Several other agency budgets approved this week have also included this somewhat uncharacteristic treatment.
We will provide a full report of the JFAC proceedings in our next edition of the Hotline. If you would like to listen in, JFAC is expected to meet on the education budget starting Monday at 8:00 AM. You can listen to the proceedings online.