From the Idaho Education Association, here’s a take from Monday afternoon’s “listening session:”
“More than 100 educators attended today’s hearing and many of them signed up to testify. However, as today was (the Idaho School Boards Association’s) annual ‘Day on the Hill,’ a great number of local superintendents and school board members dominated the two-hour timeframe, leaving time for very few teachers and education employees to have three minutes in front of the committee. Nevertheless, a handful of parents and teachers did get a chance to address lawmakers about the decisions that will be made over the next few months that risk negatively impacting our schools and our students.”
No question, the crowd for Monday’s listening session quickly overwhelmed the Statehouse’s main auditorium, which has a seating capacity exceeding 200. The room was filled even before the start of the 4 p.m. session. Overflow crowds watched video of the hearing in two adjoining committee rooms.
The House and Senate education committees carved out two hours for the listening session and the number of would-be speakers quickly filled the allotted time slot.
So did lawmakers hear from a representative cross-section of Monday’s audience? That’s the IEA’s point, and the union isn’t alone in raising the question.
Several commenters took me to task for my blog post last night, in which I said teachers were outnumbered by rural administrators and charter school advocates. Certainly, in terms of what the committees heard, those two groups represented the bulk of the public testimony, and that was the point I was trying to convey. It would have been more accurate for me to say that the committees heard a smattering of testimony from teachers — because, regardless of the circumstances and the reasons, that clearly was the case.