Stop HB 221 Next Week; Support Early Childhood Education

IEA Hotline—March 12, 2021

Stop HB 221 Next Week; Support Early Childhood Education

The Senate Education Committee will hold a hearing on HB 221, the ‘local certification” bill, next Thursday, March 18 at 3:00 p.m. Mountain Time. This legislation is the most extreme threat yet to minimum qualifications for being a teacher in Idaho. HB 221 would de-professionalize Idaho educators and short-change students, especially in rural or less affluent areas. It does absolutely nothing to address the root causes of Idaho’s teacher shortage.

Contact members of the Senate Education Committee and tell them to vote NO on HB 221. Sign up to testify, remotely or in person, in opposition to this dangerous legislation. Every student in every Idaho classroom deserves to have a qualified, well-trained teacher—not just those in big cities or wealthy districts. Read more about why we oppose HB 221 in last week’s Hotline.

Full-day Kindergarten Bill Introduced

On a more positive note, HB 331 was introduced in the House Education Committee Thursday. Sponsored by Sen. Carl Crabtree, R-Grangeville, and Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale, this legislation would bolster full-day kindergarten opportunities in Idaho, which is one of the only hand full of states that do not require districts to offer kindergarten. HB 331 will get a full hearing from the committee next Monday at 8:30 a.m. Mountain Time. You can watch the hearing on Idaho in Session.

“We know that early childhood education lays the foundation for future success,” says IEA President Layne McInelly. “We applaud any efforts to make full-day kindergarten more accessible for Idaho children and families.”

Private School Voucher Bill to be Heard Tuesday

Another critical hearing for Idaho public schools will take place Tuesday in the Senate Education Committee, beginning at 3:00 p.m. Mountain Time. HB 294 is a private school voucher bill that would siphon money away from public schools for students of private schools. Idaho is already last among the 50 states in per-student funding and further erosion of the budget could decimate public education.

HB 294 would primarily benefit the wealthiest Idaho families who already have the means to send their children to private schools. It would not be beneficial to most Idaho students and families. Private schools in Idaho are almost exclusively in cities and well-to-do communities, so rural and less affluent areas would be further disenfranchised.

Sign up here to testify against HB 294 or contact members of the Senate Education Committee and tell them to vote NO on private school vouchers.

Millions Gone from Education Budget as Committee Kills Powerball Lottery

The House State Affairs Committee voted 10-4 to have Idaho opt-out of the Powerball lottery game, which generates between $9 and $14 million per year for Idaho Public Schools, according to various reports. As this editorial in the Idaho Statesman points out, the committee’s action was based on irrational concerns, with the price for their conspiracy theories being paid by the students and educators around the state.

Optional Bargaining Bill Also Up in Senate Ed Next Week

HB 174, which would make bargaining with local education associations optional for school districts, is slated to be heard by the Senate Education Committee next Thursday, March 18 at 3:00 p.m. Mountain Time. This legislation would stifle the voices and input of those who know students best—the teachers and support staff working with them daily in school buildings.

“The people of Idaho have already spoken about this issue when they overturned the disastrous Luna Laws,” says IEA President Layne McInelly. “Collaboration between districts and educators is extremely beneficial to learning and working conditions in our schools.”

Contact the Senate Education Committee and tell them to vote NO on HB 174.

HB 293 Would Pull Funding from Schools That Close for Safety Reasons

Sponsored by Rep. Codi Galloway, R-Boise, HB 293 would allow parents to remove their children from a district that is not providing at least four days a week of in-person instruction and would withhold funding to the district for that student. Despite opposition from the IEA, the Idaho School Boards Association, and the Idaho Association of School Administrators, HB 293 passed the House on a 55-15 vote and is being transmitted to the Senate.

“We all recognize that in-person learning is the preferred modality,” says IEA President Layne McInelly. “This legislation is unnecessary, as Idaho schools are already returning to in-person learning with COVID-19 cases on the decline. It is an ill-advised rebuke of educators who have gone the extra mile to support their students during the unprecedented public health crisis.”

Read more about HB 293 in this story from Sami Edge of Idaho Education News

Stay up to date on the latest developments by following us on Facebook and Twitter (@IdahoEA).

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