This will go down in history as the week the Idaho Legislature did its best to silence teachers’ voices and end four decades of positive, win-win collaboration between educators and their districts. The wounds remain fresh in the wake of the lopsided House votes to pass Senate Bills 1108 (on a 48-22 vote Tuesday) and 1110 (on a 44-26 vote Wednesday).
But as Idaho Education Association President Sherri Wood wrote in a letter to local leaders Thursday night, “The IEA celebrated our 119th birthday earlier this month. And, we will still be here 119 years from now fighting for our students, our members, our profession, and the promise that our nation’s public education system offers to our democratic way of life.”
We will do so knowing that we are backed like never before by a majority of Idaho’s citizens. Their shows of support this week included joining educators for Days of Action events all around the state and approving most of the school levy votes set before them. Once again, Idaho citizens demonstrated that despite the protestations of elected officials, they are willing to fund strong schools for Idaho’s children.
At post time today, Gov. Otter had not yet signed Senate Bills 1108 and 1110. You can check this page to see when he signs them. You can still try and contact him to ask for his vetos of the bills, too.
As the week ended, it seemed probable that the third Luna bill – the one originally written to increase class sizes, impose technology mandates on Idaho school districts, and eliminate up to a thousand Idaho education jobs – will come back next week in altered form that gives more decision- making authority to local districts. Unfortunately, its mandates will likely mean local trustees must make decisions about whether to further cut teacher pay (in part to pay for the “bonuses” approved via Senate Bill 1110 this week), increase class sizes, or both. (By the way, don’t forget that it’s more important than ever to have pro-education people on school boards. The filing deadline for this May’s nonpartisan school board races is one week from today.)
There was one bit of good news on the education front this week: Senate Bill 1105, which would require school districts to provide training in bullying prevention for employees, passed the Senate on a 32-3 vote and is headed to the House. The legislation also requires districts to adopt consequences for students caught bullying, intimidating, or harassing others.