Sidebar Conversations Continued
Members of the IEA lobby team met once again with the education chairs and representatives from the school administrators, school boards association, PTA, and the State Department of Education. In this third meeting of the group, the parties reviewed a handful of changes to the initial bills that were printed a little over a week ago.
During the previous two sessions, the IEA offered a number of potential changes to improve the individual pieces of legislation. Some of the ideas forwarded by the IEA were considered during these discussions. In at least one instance, the changes made to the ISBA bill will allow the IEA to offer support for the measure when it is heard in committee in the next few weeks.
Unfortunately, the majority of the bills remain unacceptable for the IEA to support or to take a position of neutrality.
The IEA has prepared legislative proposals and will offer those for legislative consideration, too. Before these ideas can be considered, they must first be printed by a legislative committee and given a bill number. However, the concepts the IEA will offer include:
- Lowering the threshold to allow local school districts to declare a financial emergency (http://legislature.idaho.gov/idstat/Title33/T33CH5SECT33-522.htm). Created in 2009 as a result of a month-long bargaining session with administrators, school boards, SDE staff and legislators the financial emergency law codified certain conditions under which the state or local school districts could declare a financial emergency, triggering a way to reopen the master contract to reduce the costs of the agreement. School districts have consistently reported that the threshold was too high for them to ever be able to make a declaration. The IEA’s proposed legislation would potentially ease the district’s burden.
- Establishment of a fairer hearing officer selection process. Currently, districts have complete latitude in selecting hearing officers to provide legal advice to the School Boards and oversee school board hearings involving employee terminations. Under the IEA’s proposal, regional lists of qualified hearing officers would be utilized to ensure unbiased advice and fairness in termination hearings.
Citizen Urges Committee to Change Standards and Textbooks
In what can only be classified as a peculiar state of affairs, this morning concerned citizen Anita VanGrunsven, monopolized nearly 30 minutes of the House Education Committee’s meeting telling committee members “the truth is being purged” from at least one Idaho government textbook being used in our public schools. According to Ms VanGrunsven, MaGruder’s American Government textbook serves as “a liberal’s dream of indoctrination come true.”
She urged committee members to work with her to rewrite the content standards and she also urged the legislature to implement a plank from the Idaho Republican Party’s education platform that would require all Idaho students to pass a test on the American Constitution as a prerequisite to graduation.
Rumor Has It…
Cliff Bayer (R-Boise) told IEA Director of Public Policy Bert Marley that he will ask the Senate Education Committee to print legislation next week to repeal the Early Retirement Incentive Program. If this bill is introduced, it will be the 9th piece of legislation brought forward from the voter-rejected Prop 1.
One would hope that at some point, voters will wonder if lawmakers listened to them in November.
Reminder: Mark Your Calendar!
Next Monday, February 11th, the House and Senate Education Committees will hold a joint listening session from 4-6 PM in the Capitol Auditorium. This is a chance for citizens who were unable to attend the morning session held last Friday to share their concerns with lawmakers about our public schools. If you plan to speak to lawmakers, it’s a good idea to get their early so that you can sign in. If you are not interested in speaking, we still encourage you to attend the event. There will be plenty of seating, and it is a great way to show your support for our public schools.
If you plan to speak, please remember that you will be allowed no more than 3 minutes, so plan your comments accordingly. It’s always a good idea to bring a written copy of your comments. That way, if time does not permit you to speak, the secretary will be sure to include your comments in the public record.