Next Tuesday through Thursday (March 1-3), the House Education Committee will hear S 1108 and 1110 at its meetings in the Capitol Auditorium from 8 to 11 a.m. each day. Many of you have already taken time off to come to Boise to testify against the Luna plan. If you haven’t yet done so, please try to make the trip. If you cannot, please talk with family and friends who might be able to take a morning to help fill the Capitol Auditorium and, if possible, speak out against the attacks on teachers. Public testimony is planned March 1-2 and possibly March 3. Watch the Hotline for updates.
Meanwhile, the bill to increase class sizes, trade teachers for technology, and eliminate a thousand Idaho jobs (Senate Bill 1113), has gone back to the Senate Education Committee for more tweaks. It may emerge as a new bill during the week of February 28.
February 24: The Idaho Senate has passed Senate Bill 1108, the bill to gut teacher rights, on a 20-15 vote. Eight Republican lawmakers joined all seven Democrats in opposing the bill. The vote was the same on Senate Bill 1110, the pay-for-performance legislation. Both bills now go to the House Education Committee. Here is the Idaho Education Association's full statement on the first two bills' passage.
On behalf of the state’s educators, the Idaho Education Association thanks the 15 senators who stood with the people of Idaho to say no to Senate Bills 1108 and 1110:
Sen. John Andreason (R-Boise), Sen. Diane Bilyeu (D-Pocatello), Sen. Les Bock (D-Boise), Sen. Joyce Broadsword (R-Sagle), Sen. Dean Cameron (R-Rupert), Sen. Tim Corder (R-Mountain Home), Sen. Denton Darrington (R-Declo), Sen. Shawn Keough (R-Sandpoint), Sen. Nicole LeFavour (D-Boise), Sen. Edgar Malepeai (D-Pocatello), Sen. Dan Schmidt (D-Moscow), Sen. Joe Stegner (R-Lewiston), Sen. Michelle Stennett (D-Ketchum), Sen. John Tippets (R-Montpelier), Sen. Elliot Werk (D-Boise).
We hope members of the Idaho House will heed the public’s will on this issue and kill these two bills.
There will be candlelight vigils this evening (Thursday, Feb. 24) across Idaho to mark S 1108's passage and to stand in opposition to the continued efforts of Superintendent Tom Luna to railroad these bills through the Legislature. This list will be updated throughout the afternoon.
Aberdeen – 7 p.m. – City Hall
American Falls – 7 p.m. – City Park (corner of Bannock & Harrison)
Blackfoot – 7 p.m. – Cammack Park (corner of Meridian & Bridge)
Boise – 5 p.m. – Sidewalks ringing the State Capitol
Buhl – 7 p.m. – Across from the School District office
Coeur d'Alene – 6 p.m. – Appleway & Highway 95
Filer – 7 p.m. – In front of Logan’s Market
Fruitland – 7 p.m. – City Park
Gooding – 7 p.m. – West Park
Grace – 7 p.m. – In front of the high school
Hailey – 7 p.m. – In front of the Public Library
Idaho Falls – 7 p.m. – Sportsman's Park (next to Key Bank, downtown)
Jerome – 7 p.m. – City Park
Ketchum – 7 p.m. – Hot Dog Hill
Kuna – 7 p.m. – Kuna HS student parking lot
Lewiston – 6 p.m. – Locomotive Park
Meridian – 7 p.m. – City Hall Plaza, Broadway and Main
Minidoka – 7 p.m. – Freedom Park
Moscow – 6 p.m. Friendship Square
Nampa – 6:30 p.m. – Endeavor Elementary School
Nampa – 7:30 p.m. – Corner of Karcher and Nampa-Caldwell Blvd.
Oneida – 7 p.m. – City Park, 31 N. 100 W
Pocatello – Pocatello High School, Arthur Blvd.
Post Falls – 6 p.m. – Spokane Street and Seltice Way
Rexburg – 7 p.m. – Madison Junior High School
Shoshone – 7 p.m. – Lincoln County Courthouse
Twin Falls – 7 p.m. – City Park
February 17: Even amid overwhelming public opposition to Superintendent Tom Luna’s plan to overhaul education, the Senate Education Committee has passed all three of Luna’s bills on to the full Senate.
The votes on the bills were as follows:
Senate Bill 1108 (the teachers union-busting bill) passed 6-3. AYES: Goedde, Mortimer, Pearce, Fulcher, Winder, Toryanski. NAYS: Andreason, Malepeai, LeFavour.
Senate Bill 1110 (pay for performance) passed 6-3. AYES: Goedde, Mortimer, Pearce, Fulcher, Winder, Toryanski. NAYS: Andreason, Malepeai, LeFavour.
Senate Bill 1113 (larger class sizes, trading teachers for technology) passed 5-4: AYES: Goedde, Mortimer, Pearce, Fulcher, Winder. NAYS: Andreason, Toryanski, Malepeai, LeFavour.
Idaho Education Association President Sherri Wood was among the stakeholder group representatives who testified before the debate and votes. “From the beginning, the Luna plan’s fatal flaw has been the lack of stakeholder involvement,” she said. “In America, we have government of the people, by the people, and for the people. During the debate of the past few weeks, you’ve seen Idahoans take this concept very seriously. You’ve heard from thousands of Idahoans via emails, calls and letters to editors, and you heard from a few hundred of them in person last week – yet the bills before you today are little changed from the legislation that Idahoans overwhelmingly oppose. Many Idahoans simply don’t feel they’ve been heard.” (Read Sherri’s full comments here.)
As debate began on the bills, Sen. Edgar Malepeai (D-Pocatello) moved that all three pieces of legislation be held in committee. He criticized the lack of stakeholder work on the bills, the many unanswered questions that have been raised, and Luna’s “vertical management style” in dictating his proposals without input from the people who work in Idaho’s schools. Sen. Nicole LeFavour (D-Boise) seconded the motion, but it died on a party-line vote.
But that was the last partisan vote of the afternoon. Sen. John Andreason (D-Boise) sided with Malepeai and LeFavour in voting against the pay-for-performance and teacher-bashing bills. Noting that he represents the two largest school districts in the state (Boise and Meridian) and that 90 percent of 1,400 emails he’s received oppose the Luna plan, Andreason pleaded twice for more time – even just a few days, he said – to bring the parties together to discuss the proposals.
Sen. Mitch Toryanski (R-Boise) joined Andreason, Malepeai, and LeFavour in opposing Senate Bill 1113. Toryanski said he applauds the idea of budget sustainability that Luna claims for the bills, but that public opinion in his Southeast Boise district overwhelmingly opposes the plan, especially its promise of larger class sizes and technology mandates. “Leaders must lead, but once in a while a leader has to glance over his shoulder, and make sure the people he's leading are behind him,” he said.
Senate Bill 1108 was debated last and brought the most somber remarks from those who opposed it. LeFavour said the bill saddens and troubles her with its “overdoing of the harsh treatment of people who teach our kids.” She also said the bill will likely open a Pandora’s Box of political problems if it ends just cause protections against unfair teacher firings. Malepeai added, “This bill has nothing to do with student achievement, but it certainly hits at the spirit and heart of teachers.” In fact, after the bill passed a few minutes later, many teachers who’d come for the meeting had tears in their eyes.
The bills now go to the full Senate, where they’ll probably be heard and debated sometime the week of February 21. Here are three things you can do now:
Contact your own state Senator and urge NO votes on Senate Bills 1108, 1110, and 1113 plus the new bill that would ban collective bargaining for ALL public employees. (That includes police officers and firefighters as well as teachers.)
Thank the senators who supported teachers and children in the Senate Education Committee, and urge them to continue their support as the bills move on to the full Senate.
Attend a Presidents' Day rally in support of public schools and public employees.