Earlier today, Gov. Butch Otter quietly signed Senate Bills 1108 and 1110 into law with no advance notice and no public ceremony. State Superintendent Tom Luna designed S1108 to end 40 years of productive collective bargaining and teachers’ due process protections, put educators at risk of layoffs well into the school year, allow school districts to unilaterally reduce school employee pay and benefits, and forbid districts from considering seniority and contract status in lay-off decisions. S1110 is the unfunded pay-for-performance plan.
In a written statement, Otter told reporters, “I had the privilege of signing into law today two bills that have been a long time coming, have been publicly vetted and debated to an unprecedented degree, and will improve the ability of our public schools to fulfill their mission of educating Idaho’s children.”
Given the overwhelming public opposition to this harmful legislation, it’s not surprising that the governor made these bills law with as little fanfare as possible.
In a nod toward tomorrow’s expected unveiling of the technology bill, Otter said, “But our work is not done. We are committed to continuing our work with lawmakers and stakeholders on legislation to provide students and educators with the technology and flexibility they need to be successful in an increasingly competitive world.”
Idahoans are watching. Parents and educators know that the Legislature and now the governor have ignored public opinion against these bills. They also know that educators have had no input into the new Luna bill due to come back before the Legislature – a bill sure to please technology vendors but force more hard, unfunded choices onto local school districts. And we’ve learned through the debate on S1108 that “flexibility” has become Idaho leaders’ code word for taking away educators’ voices.
It’s a bad day for Idaho.
Speaking of technology…
The Senate State Affairs Committee is expected to print the latest iteration of SB 1113 tomorrow morning. As we reported earlier, the measure will continue to focus on additional classroom technology, including laptops (or similar devices) for teachers and students.
While the bill is expected to tweak the original language regarding how this additional technology will be introduced, the major objections of parents and teachers about the original measure remain.
Let’s face it: Either people will lose their jobs, resulting in larger class sizes, or salaries and benefits will be cut. In some cases, districts will need to do both to pay for technology upgradesand the unfunded pay-for-performance plan.
However, with this new version, local school administrators and trustees will become the scapegoats. Gov. Otter, Supt. Luna, and supportive legislators will be able to say, “Hey, we didn’t say you had to increase class sizes or cut salaries to pay for this stuff. It’s all about giving you more flexibility and local control.”
Does anyone else see the folly of spending money for laptops when the alternative is saving jobs, keeping more manageable class sizes, and avoiding pay cuts?
To be clear, the IEA supports technology. Teachers have been long dedicated to using it as an education tool. But Supt. Luna seems obsessed with elevating technology at the expense of human resources.
School board filing deadline looms
Don’t forget: Tomorrow – Friday, March 18 – is the deadline to file to run for school board in Idaho this spring. Click here for a list of races and here for a candidate information packet from the Idaho Secretary of State’s office.
IEA wins one for the Gipper
By a vote of 6-3, members of the House Commerce and Human Resources Committee killed House Bill 267, a measure sponsored by Rep. Stephen Hartgen (R-Twin Falls), that would have required IEA and the other 150 or more non-public entities whose staff members are part of the Public Employee Retirement System of Idaho (PERSI) to comply with the public records act. Had this bill passed and been signed into law, it would have required the IEA to provide, upon request, copies of internal documents such as financial records, email exchanges between employees and members, policy documents, documents regarding the IEA’s political and government relations programs, member training materials and minutes of association meetings.
The following committee members opposed the legislation: Reps. Dennis Lake (R-Blackfoot), Steven Thayn (R-Emmett), Jim Marriott (R-Blackfoot), Jeff Nesset (R-Lewiston), Shirley Ringo (D-Moscow), and Phylis King (D-Boise).
Those favoring the bill: Chairman Sharon Block (R-Twin Falls), Rep. Hartgen, and Rep. Erik Simpson (R-Idaho Falls).