Today – March 3, 2011 – is the Idaho Education Association’s 119th birthday. In an ironic twist, it also was the day the House Education Committee advanced the most teacher-unfriendly of Tom Luna’s three bills to overhaul education in Idaho, as well as a fiscally irresponsible bill that has no funding source.
After nearly five hours of testimony and questions this morning, the committee voted to pass both Senate Bill 1108 (the union-busting bill) and 1110 (the unfunded pay-for-performance bill) on to the full House. The bills received their first reading in the House this afternoon and are on the second reading calendar for Friday. In other words, they’re moving at the same greased-lighting speed at which they’ve advanced since Luna first sprung them on the Idaho public less than two months ago.
The votes on both bills were 13-5. Please take time tonight to thank the five committee members who voted no on both pieces of legislation: Rep. Sue Chew (D-Boise), Rep. Brian Cronin (D-Boise), Rep. Jeff Nesset (R-Lewiston), Rep. Donna Pence (D-Gooding), and Rep. Tom Trail (R-Moscow). Then call your own two representatives and ask for NO votes on both bills when they reach the full House. That could happen as early as next Tuesday.
It was a grueling morning. For the first 90 minutes, Jason Hancock of the Department of Education went through the bills and took questions. Next came the stakeholder testimony. IEA President Sherri Wood led off by noting the overwhelming public opposition to the bills, saying, “Idahoans are offended because Senate Bill 1108 is nothing short of the most egregious and mean-spirited attack on teachers that Idaho has ever seen. This legislation would end decades of win-win negotiations that ensure our schools work well for students, teachers, administrators, and parents.”
Sherri called Senate Bill 1110 “a cruel joke on teachers,” noting that the pay-for-performance plan would cost the state $38 million in its first year, fiscal year 2013, and more than $50 million each year after that. “In the Senate last week, the bill’s co-sponsor, Sen. John Goedde, said there is no funding source for the bill. Chairman Nonini, you were quoted in the media Monday as saying this committee may pass it anyway and then try and figure out how to fund it. That’s fiscally irresponsible in the best of times,” she said.
The IEA announced plans for Days of Action to protest Luna’s attacks on teachers. A growing list of events is on the IEA website, including leafleting and sign-waving at the state basketball tournament in Nampa; a tailgate party in Boise; a Solidarity Saturday potluck in Coeur d’Alene; a winter wiener roast in Richfield; and a “Hands Across the River” event in Lewiston. Educators invite all parents, students, fellow union members, and others opposed to the Luna plan to join us in these events. They will culminate next Wednesday, March 9, with human chains in communities statewide and events at the Idaho Capitol.
House Bill 104 is on the House third reading calendar and may be voted on Friday. The IEA opposes this bill, which – like several other anti-public education/anti-IEA pieces of legislation introduced this session – aims to strip local school boards of local control. If local school boards and local education associations agree that release time for local presidents or paying a portion of the cost for teachers to attend the IEA Delegate Assembly is beneficial to the school district, the state should not prohibit them from doing so.
In introducing his bill, freshman Rep. Reed DeMordaunt (R-Eagle) seemed to assume that all release-time local presidents do is recruit union members. In reality, they perform many tasks that benefit their district, including working with administrators to resolve personnel matters.
If approved, HB 104 would prohibit school boards from compensating employees for performing activities other than duties associated with the positions for which they are employed (except for meetings called by the SBE or SSPI).
If you look at the bill as it is strictly constructed, it would also prohibit schools districts from compensating employees who, upon request of an administrator or voluntarily, perform duties at school not associated with their position. For example, under this proposal, teachers assisting in cleaning the cafeteria after lunch or custodians supervising students at recess could not be compensated for that extra work.
Contact your representatives and ask them to vote NO on HB 104.