Lawmakers opted to take some extra time with both of the education bills on today’s agenda at the Idaho Legislature, and that’s a good thing.
By a margin of only one vote, the House Education Committee sent H564 to the amending order this morning. This is the new version of the bill from Rep. JoAnWood (R-Rigby) regarding employee records and Professional Standards Commission investigations. The committee’s move followed compelling testimony by Idaho Education Association General Counsel Paul Stark, who told committee members that at least one section of the bill turns the notion of “innocent until proven guilty” on its head by leaving an employee accused of verbal, physical, or sexual misconduct to prove the allegations are false or untruthful. The bill is now at the bottom of tomorrow’s list of 18 bills up for “General Orders,” which means they can be amended on the floor.
After a lengthy presentation on blended learning beamed in via the Idaho Education Network, the Senate Education Education Committee ran out of time to finish debating H426, the “8-in-6” bill from Rep. Steve Thayn (R-Emmett) that aims to help junior- and senior-high school students complete college credits and possibly graduate from high school early.
Bert Marley, IEA Director of Public Policy, said that the IEA supports the idea of saving families money, but he wondered what the proposal’s impact would be on the state general fund as well as on the state higher education system. Sen. Mitch Toryanski (R-Boise) asked whether rushing students through school is a good idea, noting, “You’re only a kid once. You only go to school once.” The Senate panel is not meeting Friday, so it will continue its discussion of the bill on Monday, February 27.
Also today, IEA Executive Director Robin Nettinga made a presentation to the Senate Local Government and Taxation Committee about the link between taxes and education funding. In part, she told the committee, “IEA members understand the link between good tax policy and the quality of the education that we provide our students.” She also reminded them that if a school does not assure students meet adequate yearly progress, there are consequences. She urged lawmakers to put accountability measures in place for tax breaks and incentives and to sunset those that don’t live up to their promises.