ISBA collective bargaining bills introduced

It took the Senate Education Committee less than 15 minutes to introduce four collective bargaining bills Monday — including proposals that were part of the repealed Students Come First laws.

But the hard work lies ahead. Senate Education chairman John Goedde said he will bring together stakeholders for negotiations — including the Idaho School Boards Association, which sponsored the bills, and the Idaho Education Association, a likely opponent.

“We’re not going to get 100 percent agreement,” Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, told reporters after Monday’s hearing.

The four ISBA proposals were printed on a party-line vote:

  • One would limit master agreements to one year in duration, and eliminate longstanding “evergreen clauses” negotiated by teachers’ unions and school boards. This was a component of Proposition 1, the Students Come First collective bargaining law.
  • One would require that a local teachers’ union ratify that it represents at least 50 percent of a district’s certified staff, and provide proof annually.
  • Another bill would allow a district to place a teacher on unpaid administrative leave, in the event of a criminal charge or a court restraining order. This bill also would allow a district to lower teacher pay — a component of Students Come First.
  • The fourth bill would streamline a school district employee’s grievance process. An employee could still take a grievance to district court, but under this bill, a court would be able to consider the results of the district’s review, rather than beginning the process anew.

ISBA executive director Karen Echeverria said the legislation steered around two objections IEA raised during the Students Come First referendums: continuing contracts, or tenure; and the scope of contract negotiations (Students Come First restricted the negotiation process to salaries and benefits).

“They’re all toned-down parts of what we saw in Students Come First,” Goedde said.

Sen. Branden Durst led the opposition Monday. On Twitter, the Boise Democrat  referred to the ISBA’s bills as “Luna Laws (version) 2.0.” In committee, Durst cited a recent Office of Performance Evaluations report finding “a strong undercurrent of despair” in Idaho’s teaching profession.

”I’m wondering how this improves teacher morale,” said Durst.

“We certainly aren’t trying defeat teacher morale,” Echeverria responded.

The ISBA is scheduled to present three companion bills in the House Education Committee Tuesday. The stakeholder group will meet this week, Goedde said.


  • Ryan McGill

    John and Karen,

    This is an obvious affront to the voters in Idaho.

    The Propositions 1, 2, and 3 were all voted down by SUPER conservative Idahoans.

    Leave things alone.

    This is an unnecessary move on behalf of any organization.

    This is an insult to the voters.

    This is an insult to the students.

    This is an insult to the teachers.

    You people live an echo chamber resonating with foolish ideas.

    What poor leadership in Idaho’s legislative realm.

    None of the proposed changes does anything to improve learning in public schools. This is just another move to chip away at the ‘great equalizer.’

    What would Cecil do?


  • Denise Johnson

    I would like the legislators to demonstrate how these proposed bills provide reform? Again, where is the research? Why is the burden always on the public and the educators?

    • Kevin S. Wilson

      Don’t hold your breath, Denise. Why would the ISBA and Otter, Luna, Goedde, Nonini & Co. suddenly begin proving a logical relationship between these Son of Luna Laws and any documented, proven improvement in learning outcomes? They flat-out refused to do so the first time around, and I don’t see them making any effort to do so now.

  • Ed DePriest

    I don’t see anything about improving the learning and/or teaching of students. All that I see is another attempt to make it easier to get rid of teachers at the top of the scale in order to meet budgets. I will say it until I am blue in the face. If the administrators in the buildings spend time observing in the classrooms, they can easily identify poor teachers. If they then properly follow most districts policy regarding documentation, it is easy to remove poor teachers. These “reforms” have nothing to do with improving the learning environment for students.
    I am not for seniority for the sake of seniority, but if the decision to RIF a teacher comes down to more than one, then there needs to be something in the legislation requiring the district to document superior classroom performance of the less experienced teacher before terminating the teacher with more experience. This should be about what takes place in the classroom only, not how many activities someone coaches, or how many committees someone sits on, or how someone is connected to someone who makes the decisions.

    • Kevin S. Wilson

      Points well worth making, Mr. DePriest.

      Following the demise of the Luna Laws, the Governor’s official post-mortem stresses that voters objected not to the laws themselves, but to the process by which the laws came about. That interpretation has been echoed by Sen. Goedde and repeated frequently in the Idaho Statesman and other media outlets, so frequently that it is beginning to take on an air of received wisdom.

      What Governor Otter’s simplistic explanation omits is that the process, for many, was just salt rubbed into the wound. Sure, many people–myself included–objected loudly to the ham-handed way the Luna Laws were brought before the people, then shoved down their throats. But my objection goes far beyond the process to the laws themselves, and to the intent behind them, an ideologically driven attempt to use “education reform” to strip from the IEA what little power and influence it has in this right-to-work-for-less state, to denigrate and demoralize teachers so that they either leave the profession or leave the state or accept the loss of workplace protections they have fought for in the past, and–last but certainly not least–to reward contributors to re-election campaigns by sending tax dollars their way to pay for laptops, online courses, and ever more standardized testing.

      None of it has been proven to make a whit of difference in learning outcomes or student achievement, and so much of these efforts are so far removed from teaching and learning that people like Luna, Goedde, Nonini, and their backers no longer even try to make the case that what they’re doing will improve schools. In fact, to call such efforts “education reform” is disingenuous at best, an outright lie at worst–and they know it.

      Many of us objected to the process. That much is certain. But many of us also objected to being asked to be complicit in the demonizing of unions and teachers and in the systematic, intentional dismantling of public education for the financial benefit of hedge-fund managers, venture capitalists, and billionaire social engineers.

      And some of us just know a gussied-up game of 3-Card Monte when we see one.

  • Richard Evensen

    If these proposed rules are so great, why not make them apply to ALL government entities?
    If teachers are such a terrible threat to budget stability, aren’t police and fire contracts even more of a threat?
    The state contribution to PERSI on teacher salaries is 10.39%. For fire employees it is 27.97%.

  • mary wells

    Thank you for saying this. I agree, any public employee should have the SAME work contract in that pay is subject to change from year to year, and other horrific mandates, politicians can decide for one, then for all.
    While we are at it, how are the cost for our elected offical’s benefits? Retirement?