The Boise School District trustee candidates are rightfully outraged that the district gives flagrantly biased special treatment to the Boise Education Association (BEA) and its endorsed candidates. Playing favorites and barring a free exchange of information has been commonplace in the district for years.
By allowing BEA to use school email to coordinate political activities and to post its candidate endorsements in schools while withholding knowledge of the same opportunity to non-BEA endorsed candidates, the district gives BEA candidates clear advantage. This practice is unethical and frankly illegal in many other states. (Click here to read Idaho Education New’s story on the events.)
The joint district-BEA crafted policy that allows BEA use of publicly funded facilities for campaigning is just one example of how the Boise School District and BEA control other people’s choices. There are similar practices designed to keep teachers in the dark about their choices for professional associations.
For example, the district denies nonunion associations such as Northwest Professional Educators (NWPE), the same opportunities to inform employees of their options for liability insurance, legal services, grants and scholarships, and other professional support that the BEA is provided. BEA hawks its wares with district approval at the new teacher orientation and all-district employee benefit fair, but officials prohibit the nonunion NWPE from participating in these same events. This effectively corrals teachers into a monopoly union for lack of knowledge about their options.
The district and BEA’s practices make a mockery of mutual respect, cooperation and the exchange of ideas necessary for democratic principles, such as freedom of speech, freedom of association, and freedom of inquiry, to flourish in our public schools. Boise voters and teachers deserve better.
Cindy Omlin is the executive director of Northwest Professional Educators, an organization that provides teacher liability insurance, legal services and support. NWPE offers teachers in Washington, Idaho, and Oregon an alternative to joining a union.