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Two Idaho Education Bills Become Law, and a Third Awaits

About a week after Wisconsin officials approved a law to limit collective bargaining for teachers, Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has signed into law a similiar measure, one that also drew major protests in his state.

The Republican governor also made law a second proposal approved by the legislature, which is controlled by his party, that would create a merit pay system for teachers and administrators.

States are moving quickly to make changes to teacher job protections. Florida lawmakers this week gave their blessing to a Republican-backed bill to phase out teacher tenure, and Ohio officials are debating a proposal to curb collective bargaining rights, which is backed by GOP Gov. John Kasich.

The Idaho pay-for-performance plan, Senate Bill 1110, would allow teachers to earn higher salaries by improving students' achievement and working in hard-to-staff positions, among other options. Idaho state schools chief Tom Luna, who backed the measure, estimates a teacher could earn an extra $8,000 a year. The collective bargaining measure, Senate Bill 1108, would limit collective bargaining agreements to one year and phase out tenure; Luna argues that it will save public schools $9 million a year.

A third measure supported by the governor and Luna, which as originally structured would allow Idaho schools to raise class sizes and cut hundreds of teaching jobs over time, has stalled in the legislature. But according to the Associated Press, a new version of it is expected to be introduced for debate this week.

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