In Students Come First fight, ethics becomes another diversionary debate

Idaho’s kids should expect more from the grownups.

The Students Come First debate has gone schoolyard. Perhaps the low point came Tuesday, when state schools superintendent Tom Luna and state Rep. Brian Cronin debated the laws at a Boise City Club forum.

After making his opening remarks, Cronin sat down and was confronted by a visibly agitated Luna. Cronin says he was cursed out. Did Luna actually cross the fine line of debate between calling B.S. and actually uttering the word? Luna denies it.

Did too. Did not.

Either way, it doesn’t elevate the discussion of the pivotal decision on the 2012 ballot — a defining moment in the future of Idaho education.

And to make matters even worse, another important topic has been co-opted along the way to Election Day. The issue: ethics.

Two days after the Luna-Cronin debate, state GOP chairman Barry Peterson piped up to criticize Cronin, a Boise Democrat who is seen as one of his party’s rising stars. Peterson said Cronin should give up his seat in the Legislature or give up, in Peterson’s words, his “lobbying activities” on behalf of the Students Come First opposition. (Some choice. As I’m sure Peterson is aware, Cronin didn’t seek re-election, so his $16,116-a-year legislative job comes to end in December.)

Peterson seeks to use Cronin’s own record against him. This year, Cronin co-sponsored the Democrats’ bill requiring a one-year cooling-off period before ex-legislators can register as a lobbyist. Democrats have pushed this idea before, only to hit resistance from the GOP majority — a fact conveniently ignored by Peterson.

Said Peterson: “I haven’t seen a bigger flip-flop since John Kerry ran for president. I can only conclude that in relation to ethics laws, Cronin was for them before he was against them.”

Peterson isn’t Cronin’s sole critic. Lewiston Tribune editorial writer Marty Trillhaase chided Cronin for violating the spirit of the revolving-door bill. “There’s a bright red line separating public service from private gain. Cronin doesn’t see it.”

Is the line really that bright? But there’s plenty of gray in the picture.

Cronin is not a registered lobbyist.

The cooling-off bills pertain to registered lobbying. Arguably, the anti-Students Come First campaign is tantamount to lobbying — since the Nov. 6 referendums seek to convince voters to overturn three existing state laws.

Cronin’s most compelling argument is this one: Like all citizen legislators, he has an off-session job. His, for the past 15 years, is in communications, including campaigns.

“Perhaps Mr. Peterson would like to have a conversation about the various Republican legislators who work in areas or for companies that have frequent interests in policy that is considered in the Statehouse. Is he suggesting that his own party’s legislators give up their jobs in farming, ranching, mining, insurance and law?”

This is why Cronin says he has no plans to resign; lawmakers have professional lives that “may intersect with public policy.” But ethics is still often a matter of appearances, and this has the look of double-dipping. Cronin should have resigned his House seat in August, when he began his campaign work.

Some ethics transgressions are clearcut. When Education Department staffers attending Tuesday’s Luna-Cronin debate allowed lobbyists to pick up the bill for lunch, that was an obvious what-were-they-thinking? moment. Yes, Luna reimbursed the lunches out of his own pocket — which isn’t much different than paying off the ticket after getting nabbed in a speed trap.

While the free lunches were a no-brainer bad move, the monetary value of a City Club lunch is minimal. Working on the Students Come First campaign, the ethical gray area, is presumably considerably more lucrative.

It’s a quandary, deserving some serious discussion. Just don’t count on that occurring amidst the noise of an election season — where serious issues go to be trivialized.

Considering the myriad ethics issues that have involved Republican lawmakers, it would be great if the head of the GOP wanted to engage in a thoughtful discussion about how to restore the public trust. The more ideas, the more honest brokers, the better.

I’ll believe that when I hear it. But all I’m hearing right now is what you’re going to hear in any schoolyard.

Did too.

Did not.

The Fine Line

The fine line crossed by Mr. Luna at the City Club debate was not a "fine line of debate between calling B.S. and actually uttering the word." The fine line crossed by Mr. Luna was the line between civilized, legal, adult behavior and criminal battery upon another person. Mr. Luna's physical accosting of Rep. Cronin is inexcusable, and Mr. Luna should be thanking his lucky stars that he isn't facing criminal charges for his thuggish behavior. To focus on whether or not Mr. Luna uttered a vulgar epithet misses the point altogether, which is that we have in charge of Idaho schools an individual who is clearly unable to control his own emotions or keep his hands to himself.


Very fine point indeed, Mr. Gatz. I watched the debate online and I was actually quite surprised at how stunned Cronin seemed after Luna grabbed him twice. His behavior is unacceptable.

It must be nice to have the media always there to back you up

KR, Cronin is using his legislative position (and title) to add credibility to the message of the anti-group while taking their money. There's where the conflict lies. If he were a Republican, you'd be up his you-know-what.

not sure what you're talking about...

Seems like both the Lewiston Tribune andthe KR piece here are not "backing up" Mr. Cronin

"But ethics is still often a matter of appearances, and this has the look of double-dipping. Cronin should have resigned his House seat in August, when he began his campaign work."

The blog does state facts, though- which could be constued as support- since they are facts. Cronin's actions are legal. They may not look 100% bright and shiny, but they are legal, just as are the actions of the Republicanofficers he mentions in his quote. Had Nonini et al not struck down ethics provisions when they were being debated, things might be different- but they did, and the actions are legal.

Luna did lose it, did get physical, and it is on tape. And it was definitely crossing a distinct line.

I think we need


Teachers' unions...bad for students, bad for Idaho

"Not once did I read a union labor contract that put student issues first. Not on class sizes. Not on safety. Not on school supplies. To the contrary, unions came first in every contract. Always. In contracts negotiated in secret, union bosses made sure the union's interests were placed ahead of everything else."

Read more here:

Wow, that's a truly enlightening discovery. The teachers' union tries to spin itself as THE authority on students' needs.

Essentially, the only reason they oppose the laws is because the teachers' union will no longer come first--students will.

Decoy ads, deceptive claims, union thuggery...all traced back to the Idaho Education Assn...who'd a thunk it!

Vote Yes on Props 1, 2 & 3!!!

what exactly did this have to do with this blog?

Unions ARE teachers. Teachers DO have kids as their main focus, not $$$, or they wouldn't be teachers.

I realize this legislation was primarily an effort to bust unions, and in this state the right wing fervor could easily be dupe a large number of voters into following that agenda-

I just can't figure if you are a paid duper or a dupee..

When the students start paying dues

The teachers unions will start caring about the students.

TowM8r, you seem to have a personal stake

in this issue, based on the outrage and emotion in your posts. Does your stake in this issue involve a paycheck as campaign campaign consultant or staff? Do you work directly for Luna?

Hard for me to make sense of the term 'Union Thuggery' when we're talking about gradeschool teachers and librarians. However, watching Tom Luna at the City Club forum, 'thug' did come to mind.

The teachers' union has the biggest stake in this election... need to read some of the union contracts to know the truth.

Funny how you go straight to the "have pity on us" gradeschool teachers and librarians theme. The union certainly has no pity on the taxpayers funding union activities.

I have nothing against good teachers. Good teachers don't need to be union members. Still, the union is the issue--not the teachers.

Teachers will benefit under the SCF laws. The union is the only losing entity so they fight for their survival.

You must have a personal stake in the debate too. I, as a taxpayer and parent of a student in the Boise School District, certainly have a stake in the passage of these laws.

Consider the Boise School District recently blocked the Master Contract with the Boise Education Assn (teachers' union) from public view. They moved it to an employee-only section of their website. You can't read it unless you're already an employee.

Union thug tactics?!? Definitely. The biggest fear they have is an informed voter. Informed voters will vote for the SCF laws--not against them.

Aha!!!! I found it hidden again but still accessible:

It used to be here:

How many more times do you think they'll move it around, like a s-h-e-l-l game from the public's view before the election?

Get informed: Read the Master Contract. Compare it to your own job. See all the benefits a 9 months-a-year job has that yours doesn't!!!

Also, compare the contract to the union's claim of negotiating class size, school supplies and student safety. I can save you some time: None of that is in the contract!!!

The union lackey's only have their backs--not your student's.

Vote Yes on Props 1, 2 & 3!!!

Mater, you're barking up the wrong tree with me

I have the same stake you do - as a Boise taxpayer, not a teacher, with no special connection to anyone fighting this fight. I probably do have far more respect for unions than you do, however. Not all unions are perfect, but in the big picture, especially if you work for somebody else, unions are responsible for you getting a paid vacation, for any sick leave you can take when needed, for personal time off to take care of a family member, for improved working conditions, fair hiring/firing practices, and for most retirement benefits. Without the battles fought by unions over many decades, people in the US Middle Class wouldn't have any of this. In fact, we might not even have a Middle Class. For teachers, it's no different.

I also don't think teachers - or a group of teachers joined together in a professional organization (union) are evil. Sorry that you do - I simply think you're in error. Effective 'reform' can't be accomplished in education with measures jammed through the Idaho Legislature, over the strong protests of the teachers affected. That's no way to run a railroad.

I'll vote NO on Props 1, 2, and 3, and urge others to do the same.

Respect for unions that have to lie to deceive voters?

First, they claimed laptops were replacing teachers. A myth that has since been debunked. Then they said the SCF laws silence teachers' voices. Another myth. Now they claim they negotiate for reduced class size, more school supplies and student safety.

I just debunked that too!

Why would you support such a dishonest entity? The fact they have to lie to everyone is rather telling indeed.

And why should taxpayers fund the teachers' union's president?

I see what they truly are...maybe you choose to overlook the truth?

Vote Yes on Props 1, 2 & 3!!!

Mater, you and I could go 'round and 'round, I suspect

but it's all about values, ultimately.

With no funding for laptops, it's likely that school districts, facing the state requirement to buy laptops, will have to find the money by cutting their budget for teachers. That means fewer teachers, pure and simple. Most districts are already seeing larger class sizes (which means they have fewer teachers, unfortunately). Silenced teachers' voices? Yes, unfortunately. That's why most teachers are opposing the Luna laws.

Union members comprise about 2/3 of all teachers in Idaho. There is a provision in place that protects the union president after his/her term, allowing he/she to return to the classroom where he/she came from originally.

You see what you want to see, or what you're told to see. Teachers aren't evil - and a group of teachers acting together isn't evil either. Nothing to's all about whether you value teachers, or want to support laws that trash them.

I'll vote to support teachers - which means NO ON PROPS 1, 2, and 3.

You've been drinking the Koolaid again, haven't you?

Funny how you twist the SCF laws around to make your point.

SCF funds the laptop purchases at the legislative level. It commits the legislature to provide the funding.

Consequently, the "will have to find the money by cutting their budget for teachers" conclusion you've reached is pure hogwash. But, it's something the teachers' union wants everyone to believe.

Just like they want everyone to believe they negotiate the teacher-to-student ratio (or class sizes) and other items that aren't in any contract.

Even more comedic is the claim the SCF laws "trash them". I guess giving up to $8,000/year in bonuses to the best teachers amounts to trashing them, huh? I guess providing the same tools to both high school students and their teachers is trashing them, huh? Oh, and let's not forget, the teachers' union can still collectively bargain for pay and benefits--nothing more.

See how ridiculous you sound. But, go ahead, trust the teachers' union. The same union that can't tell the truth when their survival depends on it.

Vote Yes on Props 1, 2 & 3!!!

Teachers' union is paying Cronin

Yes, a bunch of union thugs paying Cronin to violate ethics he himself proposed.

That's what it has to do with this blog.

Wrong!!! Not all teachers are union members. The teachers' union is even worse than Cronin when it comes to ethical behavior.

"Laptops replacing teachers"
"With kids being kids...spill, drop, sprinkle...on your laptop"
"Unfunded mandate"

It's all sponsored and funded by the IEA and NEA teachers' union. They don't want to discuss elimination of tenure, pay-for-performance, limited collective bargaining rights and other benefits of the SCF laws.

And they certainly don't want voters to know the SCF laws benefit students. Instead, they claim the laws are bad for students.

How is eliminating tenure going to hurt students? It isn't.
How is paying a teacher a bonus for student achievement going to hurt students? It isn't.
How is limiting collective bargaining rights going to hurt students? It isn't

The only dupe in this room is you...a duplicate of the teachers' union boss.

Only an idiot would support the teachers' union. What does that make you?

Vote Yes on Props 1, 2 & 3!!!

so what is the reality...

Any non-comitted voter needs to figure this out, though I doubt anyone not comitted reads these blogs (if you do, please chime in here with your take on this issue thus far).

No, not all teachers are union members, but all union members are teachers. They are not mean-looking guys with mustaches and blackjacks or even cans of spray-paint in their pockets. They are second-grade teachers concerned about Johnny not being able to read yet, and high school chemistry teachers trying to find the funds for Janie to take an AP exam because Janie, though very smart, is also very poor.

Laptops won't replace teachers? Really? Where does $$$ come from that has been appropriated for the laptop purchases and maintenance? Is it from a new source of revenue that will ADD ON to the previous budget for hiring and keeping teachers? That would be pretty awesome. If not (and it definitely is NOT), what is the opportunity cost of those laptops? I know, I know, "the districts will just have to figure that out on their own..." In other words, districts will either need to employ fewer teachers, or increase taxes in the form of levies. But nope, the SDE didn't do it- they passed the buck to local districts. Very nice- the SDE can claim they had nothing to do with it, and also say "in fact- we afforded more local control!"

Tell me the vision of our governor isn't to "save money" by having one centralized instructor piping out "lessons" to hundreds of students, while a 21 year-old gets paid minimum wage to sit in the physical room with the kids as "adult" supervision. How many manditory online credits was our governor originally pushing for? 10 or so? How much campaign funding did the technology companies that stand to gain from this legislation provide?

The teachers and their representatives (the Union) DO want to talk about the severe reduction in due process rights (mis-named as "tenure" in the Tom8ter/Feelmore post this is a response to) the legislation enacts. The ramifications of that are staggering.

Teachers and their representatives DO want to talk about pay-for-performance. Again, if (like the laptop program) it's funded by a new source of revenue that doesn't simply move money from an already rock bottom budget- it would be great. Otherwise, it's not any kind of "bonus" system- it's at best a s h e l l game of moving money around to appear like something good is happening, and at worst it seeks to put teachers hoping for the same dollars at each others' throats- defeating rather than promoting the necessary collaborative process.

Limited collective bargaining rights are a good thing? Eliminating provisions for fact finding in professional negotiations is a good thing? For who? sure, it makes it easier for districts to present a cheap budget to teachers and tell them to take it or leave it- so district level life is easier, but it prevents teachers from even talking about reducing physical numbers in their classrooms, maximum numbers of students one teacher is responsible, and other saftey issues. "Don't like the contract we're offering? Too bad. Nope, we don't have to go to mediation anymore because we'd hear things we don't want to hear. If you don't want the job we'll give it to some unexperienced college kid who doesn't know this is dangerous or that it will create a pedagogical nightmare...yadayada."

These laws are freaking INCREDIBLY bad for students. It doesn't matter if you belong to a union or not. I myself have absolutely nothing to do with a union of any kind, and like any reasonable person without a sneaky agenda, I will vote no, no, and no on these.

This is not a partisan or "union" issue. The issue is one of either taking time to carefully research and plan, or to continue on with rushed, strong-armed legislation that took advantage of economic hard times.

The only relationship these laws have with unions- is that they were drafted as a means to jump on the union-bashing bandwagon that has become prominent due to political conditions. Most detractors play that card heavily (see the Towm8ter/Feelmore post this is attached to) because- I'm afraid in this state- though it is unrelated to the issue at hand, it is a card that plays well.

Union members' only concern is maintaining their union...

Maybe you should take a moment to read the comment you're responding to.

The teachers' union doesn't give a hoot about Johnnie or Janie! That's the entire point. They never negotiated for reduced class sizes, more school supplies or increased safety of students.

They ALWAYS negotiated the union's interests above all else!!!

Here's what the union is saying:

“Prop 1 prohibits teachers from negotiating over important things like overcrowded classrooms, supplies and student safety,”

Now, the truth:

"Not once did I read a union labor contract that put student issues first. Not on class sizes. Not on safety. Not on school supplies. To the contrary, unions came first in every contract. Always. In contracts negotiated in secret, union bosses made sure the union's interests were placed ahead of everything else.

The Boise School District came up with 13 ways to give its teachers paid leave, including paid time off for educators appointed or elected to the Legislature. The Lapwai School District's union contract expressly forbade student contact time in excess of 375 minutes per day. The Lake Pende Oreille School District made seniority THE priority in filling vacancies — not qualifications, not dedication, not success in boosting students achievement. Why seniority? Senior teachers are paid more and pay higher union dues."

Conclusion: Those union members must be mean looking mustachioed blackjacks with spray paint cans in their pockets.

Vote Yes on Props 1, 2 & 3!!!

I don't think you read contracts

You say you have never read a contract that does anything other than pursue union interests. I doubt you read contracts then. At best you cherry pick things from pundits who tell you what they want you to repeat and worst you pull this stuff out of your....

Union negotiators in my district are all volunteer teachers. They frequently ask me what I need to help me do my job better. The amount of time a teacher gets to prepare lessons and give meaningful feedback to assignments is a huge part of teaching. This might shock you, but we aren't improv entertainers - we have the complicated task of getting knowledge and understanding into kids' heads. So when you think limiting face time with students (instructional vs. preparation) is a selfish desire on the part of teachers, it exposes you as an ignorant blowhard who has no idea what he is talking about.

I KNOW you don't read at all

Tell me, why would a teachers' union member get paid for attending union meetings? Why?

"School districts came up with lucrative arrangements that funneled money to the education union. Boise's school district found a way to encourage payroll deductions for the Idaho Education Association. The Nampa School District reimbursed employees for membership in professional organizations, including education labor unions.

Labor contracts also forced school districts to pay for union bosses at the expense of taxpayers. Nampa and Boise school districts penned contracts that paid teachers to run unions and excused them from classroom time. School districts also provided paid time off for teachers to attend union meetings. Among these were Cottonwood, Lakeland (Rathdrum), Mackay, Meridian, Post Falls and Troy"

Read more here:

Idaho taxpayers are footing the bill that union members should be paying out of their own pockets. That's not good for taxpayers, students or teachers.

Simply put, the union doesn't care one bit about students. They only care about growing their dues collections. Once the union is out of the picture, Idaho's students will do just fine without them.

Vote Yes on Props 1, 2 & 3!!!

To late, already voted NO,NO

To late, already voted NO,NO and NO..

Boise School District's contract with teachers online...

The Boise Education Association is the teachers' union in the Boise School District. Their 2012 - 2013 contract is online.

Check it out:

Apparently the district doesn't want you to find the contract but google still has a cached copy. The BSD link to it is broken (likely intentional so those of us that know how to read cannot find it just before the election).

You'd be interested to know that the Boise Education Association's president is allowed to take a leave of absence for their term in office. And, if that president happens to be a first year teacher, the district must reimburse the Association for their salary and benefits. In either case, the leave of absence counts towards retirement.

Basically, the union president is burdening Idaho taxpayers in the form of reimbursements and the district is required to hold a job position for the union president when they return to teaching.

It doesn't get any more ridiculous than that. That's the message the union doesn't want you to hear. They want you to focus on laptops or technology so you don't see the big picture.

The other interesting item concerns credit hours. Teacher credit hours are valid if "earned in or through an accredited college or university".

Why is that important? Well, that means they get credits for online courses. It doesn't get any more two-faced than that!!!

The teachers' union has sucked on the Idaho taxpayers' teet long enough.

Vote Yes on Props 1, 2 & 3!!!


Last week when this topic came up I went to the BSD and it is was listed on their home page under Employee Benefits- "master contract". Very clear. Very easy to find. It worked.

The NEXT day, that link did not work and that item was no longer on their home page. However it is elsewhere on their website- as in, HIDDEN elsewhere.

They moved it to an "employee's only" area...

...specifically to hide it from the public.

That is quite indicative of the union's underhanded tactics. They want to dummy down the debate so parents will support them, i.e., "teacher knows best".

It's so underhanded as to be comedic!!!

The teachers' union is using the 3 props as a s-h-e-l-l game. They don't want anyone to see what's really going on. Basically, when the public can see the truth for themselves, they'll make a more informed voting decision.

It's the "informed decision" the union truly fears.

I found it again buried here:

It must really irritate the union when their true motives are exposed!!!

Vote Yes on Props 1, 2 & 3!!!

Meridian school district salary schedules

Administrators starting pay is....drum roll please...$67,000!

Certified teachers start at $31,000 and go up to $58,000.

Vote Yes on Props 1, 2 & 3!!!


Or you could be a firefighter- starting salary $43,656 + benefits.
Union of course.
Boise Police starting - $48,132 + benefits and people shooting at you.
12 MONTHS of work for these two careers.

Commissioned Officer in the US Military. $33,936.

Relates How?

None of the jobs you mention require a college degree and continuing education at the college level.

Don't waste your time...

There is no point in logical discourse. The only relevance needed is spewing the vitriol painting teachers (or anyone else who may have the audacity of opposing the laws) as Jimmy Hoffa types who are working to line their pockets at the expense of students and taxpayers...

I voted yes, yes and yes for

I voted yes, yes and yes for the students. Laptops or computers or whatever you wish to call them are a TOOL to be used in the classroom to the benefit of an enhanced and improved education for students as they are currently being used. The IEA is calling wolf without a wolf in view. Enough of this

The IEA is calling wolf without a wolf in view

Then how would you describe the proponents use of the term "union thuggery?" Sorry about your vote. It's really too bad more repubs won't actually consider the consequences of their votes rather than swallowing the party line. The only reason the republican party has to support these unfortunate assaults on public education is their drooling over the money that is coming their way from the for-profit ed industry.