Idaho Collective Bargaining Measure Clears Legislature
Proposals in Wisconsin and Ohio have captured most of the headlines, but Idaho lawmakers have beaten both states out of the gate with the passage of a measure to restrict teachers' collective bargaining rights.
Legislators in Idaho's House of Representatives approved the measure by a 48-22 vote, with opposition coming mostly from Democrats but also some Republicans.
The measure, which already has cleared the state Senate, would limit collective bargaining for teachers to wage and benefits, phase out tenure protections for new hires, and put limits on the length of teacher contracts. In addition, it says that seniority cannot be a factor in deciding which teachers are laid off first in reductions of force—in other words, it does away with the so-called "last-in, first-out" provisions. At least 50 percent of teachers', principals', and superintendents' evaluations would be based on student achievement.
The bill now goes to the desk of Republican Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, who is expected to sign it. The collective-bargaining changes were part of a legislative package backed by the governor and state schools chief Tom Luna, which has drawn major opposition from teachers and others, as the Wisconsin and Ohio proposals have.
Luna called the collective bargaining measure "a great step forward," and said it "implements major education reforms that we have talked about for years."
A second bill, to create pay-for-performance for Idaho teachers, is also moving through the legislature. [UPDATE (5:30 p.m.): That pay-for-performance bill, which would tie some teacher pay to student achievement and award bonuses to teachers in hard-to-fill roles, was approved this afternoon and is also now headed to the governor.]
A third proposal, which would cut teaching jobs, allow class sizes to rise slightly and establish requirements for schools to use technology, has run into opposition. But Luna and the governor are working with lawmakers on revising the legislation, and a new version should be introduced soon, Melissa McGrath, a spokeswoman for the schools chief, told me. While the bills are not dependent on each other passing, she said, the two men see them as interconnected.
Luna has caught a lot of heat over his proposals. The latest twist is an effort to recall him from office, led by a retired secretary who says neither Luna nor the governor told voters last fall that they were planning to introduce the proposals.