IEA lobby team members have been working with lawmakers over the past week to address the concerns that teachers expressed during last week’s public hearing on HB 222. Our success in getting many of the changes to HB 285, the bill introduced Wednesday by members of the House Education Committee, are a direct result of the work IEA members have done to help educate and enlighten legislators.
While not perfect, we believe the changes in HB 285 will ensure that teachers’ voices will be a part of the decision-making process, that teachers will not be held accountable for those things that are out of their control, and that lawmakers will do their part to ensure the funding that is promised in this legislation over the next five years will actually be forthcoming.
Lawmakers have repeatedly voiced their disdain with the current salary allocation model; and, it became clear early on in the 2015 session that there would be a change from the current model to a career ladder model. However, lawmakers also unmistakably had no appetite for the career ladder plan being touted by the State Board of Education. HB 285 provides a jumping off point with a five-year implementation plan that includes significant funding in future years. The implementation timeline also provides us with the time necessary to figure out what is working and to tweak what’s not.
Members of the House Education Committee unanimously approved a motion to introduce the measure on Wednesday morning. HB 285 includes the following changes:
- The definition of “measurable student achievement” is modified to ensure that the measures and targets are chosen at the local level and that teachers will be included in those discussions.
- Only those students who have been enrolled in and attended at least 80% of the instruction can be included when determining whether an individual teacher met their “measurable student achievement” targets.
- The first two cells in the salary allocation grid for Residency rung of the ladder are increased by $500 to $32,700 and $200 to $33,200. These increases to those cells will ensure that the increase for every cell in the first year of implementation is at least 3% or higher.
- Every teacher will be eligible to earn leadership awards. The language in the previous draft requiring that a teacher first earn an overall proficient rating on his/her evaluation to be qualified to receive this bonus was removed.
- School districts will be required to bring together a committee that includes teachers to assist in decisions about how both leadership premiums and master teacher premiums will be distributed.
- Charter school instructional staff will be eligible to earn master teacher premiums; the previous version of the bill inadvertently left these teachers out.
- Administrators will need to complete a 3 credit course on teacher evaluation each time they recertify.
- The requirement that administrator evaluations be audited will be reduced to a review of paperwork. The State Department of Education will be responsible for conducting those independent reviews each year and providing a report on their findings to the legislature and colleges and universities who prepare administrators. The draft no longer will require that someone from an Idaho college or university come into a teacher’s classroom to observe or interview a teacher.
- National Board Certification remains unchanged. Teachers will continue to receive $2,000 for five years of their certification.
- Finally, language will be added to the bill that ensures that if the legislature does not fund salary allocation as outlined in the bill, that no teacher will be denied continuing contract status, regardless of their evaluation results or measureable student achievement targets.
But wait…. Late Wednesday afternoon, we learned that the bill, which is less than 24 hours old, will undergo yet another rewrite, though the edits are expected to be minimal. Based on discussions with lawmakers, we understand that language will be added allowing districts to design programs or establish goals and award Master Teacher Premiums to groups of teachers based on their achievement of those goals. The new proposal is expected to be introduced on Thursday. We will provide an update of any additional changes in Thursday’s Hotline.
House Panel Considers Anti-Bullying Measure
Members of the House Education Committee spent Wednesday morning listening to heart-rending testimony from parents who have lost their children to suicide or whose kids have been bullied and from students who told stories of how they been victims of intimidation and harassment at school.
HB 246, sponsored by Reps. Ilana Rubel (D-Boise), Patrick McDonald (R-Boise), and Sen. Janie Ward-Engelking (D-Boise), would ensure teachers and other education staff members receive training to help them recognize and intervene in incidents where bullying occurs.
The bill would also require school district administrators to ensure all school personnel and students are aware of school district anti-bullying policies. HB 246 would further ensure that school district personnel are authorized to intervene where they see incidents of bullying.
IEA Director of Public Policy Matt Compton testified in favor of the legislation, telling committee members, “We know that when it comes to bullying in our schools, the adults can stop it, fix it, and prevent it from happening again.” He went on to point out that the components of HB 246, “will help us as we continue our attempts to bully-proof our public schools.”
After nearly two and one half hours of testimony from the public-all in favor of the bill-committee members unanimously voted to send the bill to the floor with a recommendation that it pass.
Teresa Luna Resigns
Betsy Russell of the Spokesman-Review reported late Tuesday afternoon that Teresa Luna, Idaho Department of Administration director and sister to former State Supt. Tom Luna, will leave her post at the end of the 2015 legislative session.
Luna, who oversaw the implementation of the failed Idaho Education Network (IEN) contract between the state and Education Networks of America (ENA), has been under fire from lawmakers for the past several years for her handling of the contract.
IEA Member Appointed to Corrections Board
Congratulations to Boise U.S. Government teacher and IEA member Cindy Wilson, who was appointed to the Idaho Board of Corrections on Wednesday afternoon. You can read more about Cindy’s appointment in an online report from Betsy Russell of the Spokesman Review.