It’s been one of the most tumultuous weeks in recent memory for Idaho educators. Here’s a recap:
Today, the Senate State Affairs Committee agreed to print a bill that would ban all public sector collective bargaining in Idaho, but its sponsor Sen. Shirley McKague (R-Meridian) said she did not want to hold hearings on it this year. Read more here.
Thursday, the Senate Education Committee defied overwhelming opposition to Superintendent Tom Luna’s education overhaul and sent all three bills on to the Senate.Though we have not received confirmation, it is possible that the full Senate may begin debating these bills as early as next week. Earlier Thursday, the House Education Committee sent House Bill 104 to General Orders (the amending order) to make one minor tweak, which will do nothing to improve the bill. HB 104 would prohibit school districts from using public money to pay union leaders or pay for release time for educators to attend union-related events such as Delegate Assembly.
On Wednesday, we saw the third full-page ad placed in newspapers statewide by Idaho Falls businessman and Luna benefactor Frank VanderSloot. This one, with a blaring headline “Union Against Putting Students First,” had a dense selection of “Union-created” myths cut and pasted from state Department of Education talking points. The IEA countered with “Debunking the myth-information.”
Tuesday was the strangest day of the week, as Luna and Gov. Otter called a press conference in the wake of vandalism to Luna’s truck earlier that morning. The IEA condemned the vandalism but criticized Luna and his allies for the harsh language they’ve been using against union members.
On Monday, just days after he was ordered to make “small corrections,” Luna released the new versions of his bills. By the middle of the week, they were known as Senate Bill 1108 (the union-busting bill), Senate Bill 1110 (the pay-for-performance bill), and Senate Bill 1113 (the bill to increase class sizes and eliminate up to a thousand Idaho education jobs over the next two years).
Here’s look at what’s ahead:
Tomorrow (Saturday, February 19), there’s a forum on ways Idaho might bridge its revenue gap set for 9 to noon at the Capitol Auditorium. The event will be streamed on the Legislature Live website (click on the Auditorium link) and questions can be emailed during the event to Rep. Sue Chew at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday at 5:30 p.m. Mountain (4:30 Pacific) , you can watch the rebroadcast of IEA President Sherri Wood’s appearance on “Dialogue” from last night. Or you can see both the original show and a web extra at the “Dialogue” website.
On Monday, Presidents’ Day rallies to support public education are set in 10 communities all around Idaho (plus one in Lewiston on Saturday). Get the full list here.