The bullying of Idaho educators, school board members, superintendents, parents and – worst of all, students – reached its peak this week as the Senate steamrolled over public opinion to pass Senate Bill 1184. This is the final piece of Supt. Tom Luna’s plan to overhaul education in our state.
At the beginning of the week, news reports indicated that school boards were apparently being told not to publicly oppose the bill or they’d face consequences. By Tuesday, the superintendents and school board chairs of the state’s two largest districts had written letters to lawmakers in opposition to the bill’s line-item mandates and changes in the salary-based apportionment system. Yet the Senate Education Committee passed it anyway, on a 6-3 vote that day.
Opposition built over the course of the week, as Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee Co-Chair Sen. Dean Cameron (R-Rupert) came out against the bill, joining Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis (R-Idaho Falls). Nevertheless, the full Senate passed the bill 20-15 on Thursday.
The House Education Committee expects to hear the bill at its meeting at 8 a.m. Tuesday, March 29. Contact your House members this weekend and urge them to vote no on the bill.
In other news this week, House Bill 201, a bill that is a wholesale rewrite of Idaho school district hiring practices, passed out of the Senate Education Committee on Thursday on a 6-2 vote. The bill now goes to the full Senate where it is expected to pass easily, despite vigorous opposition from the Idaho Education Association.
The bill requires, among other things, that before a teacher can be hired he/she must sign a release allowing the hiring district full access to his/her confidential personnel file from every district where a teacher has previously worked. It also prohibits the expunging of any unsubstantiated information from a file with the exception of verbal or physical abuse or sexual misconduct.