By Brian Murphy
Gov. Butch Otter signed Senate Bills 1108 and 1110 into law Thursday morning. The bills are the first two parts of state schools superintendent Tom Luna's "Students Come First" education-reform package. He did not hold a public signing.
Otter was listed as a co-sponsor of the legislation. SB 1108 changes the law when it comes to negotiations between local school districts and teachers' unions and does away with continuing contracts for new teachers. SB 1110 implements a pay-for-performance plan.
"I had the privilege of signing into law today two bills that have been a long time coming, have been publicly vetted and debated to an unprecedented degree, and will improve the ability of our public schools to fulfill their mission of educating Idaho’s children," Otter said in a release from his office.
SB 1113, the final part of Luna's reform package, is stalled in the Senate Education Committee. A new version of the bill is expected to be introduced Friday in the Senate State Affairs Committee.
"Our work is not done. We are committed to continuing our work with lawmakers and stakeholders on legislation to provide students and educators with the technology and flexibility they need to be successful in an increasingly competitive world," Otter said.
The new bill will have significant changes, according to lawmakers:
From the Associated Press: For instance, a provision that would have eliminated 770 classroom teachers and boosted class sizes is gone, leaving decisions over how to allocate state funding - and how many teachers to retain - up to local school districts.
The requirement that students take online courses will be stricken, Senate Education Committee Chairman John Goedde adds, with the Board of Education instead directed to draft rules governing policy on how the Internet will figure in the classroom in coming years.
And while the legislation still foresees ninth-graders eventually receiving laptops, teachers will be the first to get them starting in 2013, with training to use them.
From Gov. Butch Otter's office:
GOVERNOR SIGNS FIRST TWO EDUCATION REFORM BILLS INTO LAW
BOISE – Governor C. L. “Butch” Otter issued the following statement today after signing Senate Bills 1108 and 1110 into law, completing the first two-thirds of his effort with Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna to enact their Students Come First proposals for Idaho public schools.
“I had the privilege of signing into law today two bills that have been a long time coming, have been publicly vetted and debated to an unprecedented degree, and will improve the ability of our public schools to fulfill their mission of educating Idaho’s children. But our work is not done. We are committed to continuing our work with lawmakers and stakeholders on legislation to provide students and educators with the technology and flexibility they need to be successful in an increasingly competitive world."
From legislative Democrats:
Democrats Question Governor Otter on Funding of Education Bills
BOISE — Idaho’s Democratic legislators are calling on Governor Otter to justify signing Senate bill 1110 which lacks a funding mechanism because that legislation (SB 1113) has failed to garner the support needed for passage.
“Governor Otter has always touted his credentials as a fiscal conservative so it begs the question how he can sign a bill that mandates up to $50 million per year in costs without adequate funding during the worst fiscal crisis in the history of Idaho’s system of public instruction,” said Senate Minority Leader Edgar Malepeai.
Senator Malepeai is a retired teacher who sits on the Senate Education Committee and has opposed the Otter/Luna plan since its unilateral inception.
House Minority Leader John Rusche said, "We try to teach our kids not only math and reading, but collaboration, communication, planning and responsibility. I do not see those attributes in these bills from the Republican Governor and Superintendent Luna."
Democrats remain dismayed by the passage of legislation that strips away the mechanism that for decades has successfully unified teachers with school district administrators through a collaborative process that enhanced the workplace environment that is your child’s classroom.
“The Superintendent and Governor have talked about how we can no longer continue to ‘cannibalize’ our system of education,” said House Minority Caucus Chair Brian Cronin. “This term couldn’t be more appropriate for what we’re doing with this bill: robbing education and cutting teacher jobs and salaries in order to pay teachers a nominal bonus. It not only doesn’t add up but it doesn’t make any logical sense.”
“It’s disappointing there was no political will to conduct a respectful dialog about this sweeping overhaul of public education,” said Senator Michelle Stennett, Minority Caucus Chair. “Teachers were not a part of the planning process and many will lose their jobs, yet they are being told that we value them and will pay for their performance when there is no money to make good on this disingenuous promise."
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