The following testimony was delivered to members of the House Education Committee on Friday, regarding HB 296.
Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee. I am Robin Nettinga, Executive Director of the Idaho Education Association and I come before you today in support of HB 296.
It has been a long and challenging process to get to this point, but it’s nice to be here.
I want to begin by saying thank you. Thank you Chairman DeMordaunt and Vice-Chair Van Orden.
I am certain that none of us knows how much time and energy each of you put into this effort.
On behalf of the members of the IEA, I want you to know that we are deeply appreciative to have had the opportunity to work with you on this legislation.
We are humbled by the honest, open, and respectful dialogue we were able to have.
While we may have hoped for a different process—and Mr. Chairman—you and I have discussed this already, so I won’t belabor that issue—I want you to know that we come away knowing that we can work through very difficult issues and disagreements without being disagreeable.
That has not always been the case in years past, but we know that it can be done…and in the end, we have greater respect for each other. Thank you.
Thank you also to every member of this committee for the many hours you spent listening to the teachers last week. I cannot begin to express how much it meant to those who were in attendance.
They felt respected, valued, and supported throughout the entire process. We are hopeful that the work we’ve begun this session signals a new beginning. Thank you for your part in that.
Now, to the bill. The measure before you today is a textbook illustration of consensus.
As such, it is not perfect, but perfection is a very high bar.
Even with all the versions we’ve seen and all the changes that have been made over the course of this legislative session, we know that there are still tweaks that we’ll likely have to address in the years ahead.
However, because of the changes that have been made, we believe that HB 296 is that better bill Chairman DeMordaunt spoke about just a little over a week ago, and all of us are in a much, much better place than we were just a few months ago.
Working together, we were able to accomplish so much more. The members of the IEA trust that our successful efforts in creating HB 296 bode well for opportunities to collaborate on other issues in the future.
The changes included in HB 296 will ensure that teachers will be included in discussions as decisions are made about their compensation, that teachers will not be held accountable for those things that are out of their control, and that lawmakers will do their part to ensure the funding that is promised in this legislation over the next five years will be forthcoming.
As you heard last week, all of these are extremely important issues for teachers.
Finally, while we are hopeful that this new legislation has the potential to help attract and retain teachers and move public education forward in Idaho, time will tell. I would be less than honest if I told you that we don’t still have concerns.
However, we strongly believe that your willingness to help quell many of the apprehensions voiced by teachers and our willingness to have faith in the process and trust that together we have built a strong foundation makes us hopeful.
With that, I ask you to send HB 296 to the floor with a do pass recommendation. Thank you.