Idaho's teachers union labled 'weak' in new national study by anti-union reform group

While Idaho's teachers union has been accused of union thuggery during the intense campaign on Propositions 1, 2 and 3, the state ranks just 36th in union strength nationwide, according to a study released Monday by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute and Education Reform Now.

The report says Idaho has the seventh-highest rate of teachers laid off annually due to poor performance, with 3.5 percent let go every year. Union membership ranks 35th, with 62 percent of teachers in unions, and union revenue ranks 29th, at $444 annually per teacher.

The Ohio-based Fordham Institute's board includes former U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige, who was Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna's boss during the George W. Bush administration. The group's mission statement says "the situation is most dire for our neediest children, who lack high-quality education options, receive dumbed-down curricula and weak instruction, and whose schools systems are too often held hostage by adult interest groups, including but not limited to teacher unions." Affluent students also suffer, says the group, with many "ill-prepared for college and career."

Education Reform Now is a New York-based nonprofit.

Idaho's rank may have been lower had the study included 2011's Senate Bill 1108, which is subject to repeal in Proposition 1. SB 1108, law since March 2011, limits collective bargaining to wages and benefits. "The law was passed after we calculated our metric, and thus, it was not included in our analyses," says the study.

It's not clear, however, whether that would have dropped Idaho 's overall rank, said Amber Winkler of the Fordham Institute. Collective bargaining was one of 37 measures in the study, and accounted for about 3 percent of the outcome, she said.

Teachers unions in 50 states and District of Columbia were ranked in five areas. Idaho ranked 45th in state policies, 42nd in scope of bargaining, 42nd in perceived influence, 30th in resources and management, and fourth in involvement in politics.

The lone high rank was a product of union involvement in state politics, including campaign contributions. "The unions' involvement extended beyond financial, with 23.1 percent of all Idaho delegates to the Democratic and Republican national conventions identifying as teacher union members," says the study.

The Idaho Education Association is Idaho's teachers union, and is affiliated with the National Education Association. As of Sept. 30, the IEA had contributed $280,000 to the campaign to defeat Props 1, 2 and 3, and the NEA had given $1.06 million. In 48-hour filings, NEA added another $740,000 bringing their total to $1.8 million. IEA added about $8,000.

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This can't be

Mr. Luna and Towm8r can't be wrong. The Teachers' Union is all powerful!

Then why in the world

did the vote "yes" campaigners think they needed to put Mr. Romney on TV, talking about teacher's unions and how if you don't vote yes, "teachers unions will take over Idaho?"

This propaganda just disgusts me.

I am a teacher, and my district doesn't even HAVE a union. How are the unions going to take over the world if all the districts in the state don't have one?

What the what is this garbage?

BTW, Idaho's union is well-known for letting go of weak teachers:

Are you equally disgusted by the "No" campaign's propaganda?

Seems to me your disgust only extends to those that disagree with you.

Incidentally, the IEA is painfully aware of how many districts they don't own.

In their own words:

"Of Idaho’s 108 school districts, 28 aren’t big enough to allow bargaining. "The boards of smaller districts can dictate contract terms for the teachers. In these situations, the districts de facto impose the contracts on teachers, with no bargaining whatsoever,"

This is my favorite fabrication of them all!

"Every teacher knows, however, that their ability to teach effectively is dramatically impacted by class size, hours taught and supplies budgets—and now those topics are off-limits in contract negotiations"

Take a look at the master contracts

Nampa School District's Master Contract:

Boise School District's Master Contract:

Meridian School District's Master Contract:

The ONLY negotiated item she mentions is hours taught! That's it! She would have you believe that's for the benefit of students?!? Nothing could be further from the truth.

It's all about the teachers' unions!

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


You mean Otter and Luna lied? Say it isn't so!

It's the 'ol "where you rank" numbers again

It's a bogus statistic the media loves. It may or may not mean anything. Look at it like this: If you put the 50 richest people in the world in the same room there will be someone ranked number 1 and someone ranked 50. Gee, let's start a collection for the poor guy ranked last.

Weak? Why then do they own Boise School District?

I'm an Idaho taxpayer. I have a son attending Boise School District. I firmly believe the teachers' union is responsible for the biggest drain on education funding even as they use deceptive claims to decoy from the real issues. I have a vested interest in seeing the union's influence taken out of the public school equation. Just how entrenched is the teachers' union in the Boise School District?

Judge for yourselves:

"Official delegates of the Association will be granted up to two (2) days of paid leave to attend the Delegate Assembly of the Idaho Education Association. In addition, the Association may send representatives to other local, state, or national conferences or onother business pertinent to Association affairs. These representatives may be excused with pay, upon Association request, and with District approval. The Association shall give ten (10) days prior notice to the Superintendent or designee, except in extenuating circum-stances."

Why are taxpayers paying teachers to attend union meetings?

"The Association president shall be allowed a leave of absence for his/her term of office with salary and benefits to be paid by the Association for the time that the president is released from teaching duties. The District shall reimburse the Association the cost of salary and benefits of a first year teacher (B.A., 1.0 experience). Said leave of absence shall count towards retirement and all other purposes of the Master Contract. All rights of renewable contract status, retirement, accrued sick leave, salary schedule placement and other benefits provided herein shall be preserved and available to the Association President in the event he/she chooses to return to the District as a professional employee at the conclusion of his or her term of office. If the Association President chooses to return from his or her leave of absence, he/she shall be assigned to a position at the same school, the same teaching field, if available, as that which he/she held before becoming the Association president."

Why are Idaho taxpayers funding the union president's job? Did voters know the Boise School District pays teachers from your tax dollars to attend union activities?

What does the Idaho Education Assn's Delegate Assembly do with taxpayers' money during their 2-day "Delegate Assembly" retreat?

"Delegates voted Friday afternoon to back the referendum campaigns to overturn the harmful Luna laws, and many teachers fanned out across Boise that evening to begin collecting signatures."

Why, they're stealing taxpayers' money to become political activists!!! Shouldn't the union fund its own political activities? Not if they can do it on taxpayers' dime they won't.

The reason union members have a problem with me is because they can't stand to have their dirty laundry displayed for all voters to see. They can't handle someone taking them to task.

Their worst fear is an informed voter.

Now you know the truth!

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

Shadow Hills Elementary

It's a great school, don't you think?

According to the Fordham Institute,

"A solid plurality of Americans would be amenable to their local school districts seriously shaking up the way they operate, according to a new poll from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, which portrayed the poll's results as good news for education reform advocates.

Nearly half of Americans, 48 percent, said they would want their school district "to cut costs by dramatically changing how (they) do business" if the district was facing a substantial budget deficit, according to Fordham. Only 26 percent said they would want to wait for things to get better, while 11 percent they would want to raise taxes.

Various well-known cost-saving measures saw significant support in the Fordham poll: cutting the number of school administrators (69 percent); closing and consolidating schools with declining enrollment (63 percent) and merging the administrative offices of smaller school districts (63 percent).

Reversing teacher tenure and "last in, first out" layoff policies has been a longstanding goal of education reformers, and the Fordham poll found the public was agreeable to those ideas: 74 percent said teacher layoffs -- if necessary -- should be based on performance, rather than seniority. More than half said they would support moving teachers away from a classic pension plan and into something similar to an individual 401(K).

All this

at Shadow Hills? Wow!


or consolidate". Applies to Shadow Hills.

a great school in Idaho

means they teach you to strive for management at Walmart instead of shooting to be an hourly Minimum wage worker...

A Good Education

means the power to make one's own way in the world. It is freedom enhancing. It is about making people powerful in their own right. Only unions object to that because they are just about teacher jobs and nothing more. The NEA said so.

No one

No one fears you, least of all the Boise School District. Get over yourself. You are irrelevant.

Tow, I don't know

if it's still happening, but at one time the payment of teacher's union dues was part of the contract negotiated by the union in the Boise School District. In other words, the taxpayers paid the teachers union dues....Sunny...

Looks like you were's 'hidden' like the others...

X. Professional Development Stipend

"The Board agrees to provide each professional employee a sum equal to 1.132% of the
average classroom teacher’s salary of the State of Idaho for the preceding year for
professional activities. That sum of money shall be paid to each professional employee in
twelve (12) equal monthly installments, commencing in September. A professional
employee hired by the District on or after November 1 shall receive a pro-rated sum based
upon his/her date of employment, paid in increments through the end of the contract year.
However, a professional employee who does not complete the contract year shall not
receive any pro-rata increments after his/her last day of employment. It is agreed that
membership in any professional organization(s) is not a condition of employment."

This is why Idaho needs education reform! We have teacher's complaining that they have to buy school supplies (supplies that are parents' responsibility), they work long hours, etc. Yet, when reading the contracts, the work hours are limited & spelled out in excruciating detail, taxpayers are funding their union dues & activities and the teachers' union resists any reforms whatsoever.

The teachers' union IS the problem. SCF laws ARE the solution.

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

Grasping at straws

This is not about the Union. I like how you take this statement and make it about unions. You are wrong once again. Professional days are where teachers go to a class to learn about the latest technology, teaching methods, etc. It is professional development.

People like TowM8r are the problem, spreading lies and deceit. You too much vested in this as to think that you are just a concerned citizen. You sound more like Luna than a concerned citizen.

You are tiresome.

Doesn't matter what the subsection title is...

It's all right there in the master contract.

Fact: Titling one section of a contract as "Professional Development" or another as "Professional Leave" when both clearly require Boise School District to take taxpayers' money and spend it on union activities is the issue.

Try and spin it any way you choose...the truth is right there in the contract. Informed voters most certainly want to know this stuff. Why else do you think the unions' ads say, "just trust teachers"? Because peeling back the onion exposes what the union doesn't want anyone to see, namely, that school boards are subservient to the teachers' union.

Boise School District's contract with Boise Education Assn (teachers' union) proves it beyond any doubt!!!!

In fact, try searching online for that contract...notice any dead links? That's because BSD administration moved its location. They wanted to HIDE the contract from the public's view.

If they had nothing to hide, why are they playing a sh-ell game?!?

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

So Hidden, Only You Could Find It, in Plain Sight?

Regardless of how you try to spin it, it appears this stipend is simply a part of each teacher's pay and benefit package, and it says nothing about requiring them to use the stipend to join the IEA - in fact it clearly states that it is not a condition of employment. However, almost every Boise School District teacher does join, which speaks to how they value their association. Also, it's obvious that the School District would never have negotiated for this stipend if they didn't encourage teachers to enhance their "professional development" - something the IEA provides to them in spades.

So, what's your point again?

Just calling a spade what it is...a spade.

What does the Idaho Education Assn's Delegate Assembly do with taxpayers' money during their 2-day "Delegate Assembly" retreat?

"Delegates voted Friday afternoon to back the referendum campaigns to overturn the harmful Luna laws, and many teachers fanned out across Boise that evening to begin collecting signatures."

Why, they're stealing taxpayers' money to become political activists!!!

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

Way to cherry pick a line from that article

I wrote the article you cite above while communications director at the IEA. You forgot a few parts:

"At the Awards Luncheon on Friday, April 15, Dr. Geoffrey Thomas, superintendent of the Madison School District based in Rexburg, Idaho, won the IEA’s Friend of Education Award. Thomas was recognized for his commitment to excellence, his open-door policy, his frequent classroom visits, his passion for education, and his willingness to oppose public policy that will harm children and schools."

"Thomas, a former classroom teacher, added that the teacher-student relationship is the most important factor in education, and that most educators do their utmost to make those relationships positive."

" ... delegates also took time to raise more than $20,000 for the IEA Children’s Fund, which helps educators meet student emergency needs ranging from ... dental work to shoes and coats."

"Delegates also took advantage of a Red Cross bloodmobile parked just outside the Boise Centre convention hall, donating 28 pints of blood to help other people in need across Idaho."

Yes, those union teachers are truly awful. Vote No on Props 1, 2, and 3.

Did BSD compensate you for attending?!?

I didn't cherry-pick anything that was unrelated to the subject at hand, specifically, Boise School District is compensating union members for union activities.

Note the following (after all, you cherry-picked from your own article):

-A blood drive has nothing to do with teaching
-An award ceremony isn't "Professional Development"
-The IEA Children's fund has nothing to do with "Professional Development"
-Voting against SCF laws (at the assembly) and then collecting signatures has nothing to do with "Professional Development"

Why, then, are taxpayers' compensating union members for these activities under the guise of "Professional Development"?

That answer is simple: The BEA union dominates Boise School District so much the BSD Master Contract may as well eliminate all negotiations and just give Boise Education Assn a blank check to write whatever they want. That's essentially what has already taken place.

Contrast BSD's Master Contract with that of Meridian School District's.

MSD doesn't compensate teachers for union activities. In fact, if a teacher attends union activities during class time the teacher has to compensate the school for the cost of a substitute. That's exactly as it should be.

There is a very clear difference: BSD is owned by the teachers' union and spends nearly 50% more per student than MSD does. Furthermore, MSD has schools (high schools) that rank only slightly below BSD's best high schools.

Conclusion: Taxpayers aren't getting their money's worth out of BSD--the union-owned school district.

Personally, I have no issue with what activities the IEA engages in on their own dime.

On the other hand, when it comes to a union stealing from taxpayers right under their noses, I'm going to point that out every time I see it.

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

What are you going to do for a payday after the election?

"No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government." Neil Peart

Same thing I've been doing for the past 20+ years...working.

I don't get paid to post my opinion.

If the SCF laws don't pass, you can bet the Boise School District's future Master Contract with Boise Education Assn (the union) will contain a clause wherein the district must compensate union members for their time posting commments.

That's why I'm voting...

Yes on Props 1, 2 & 3!!!


It doesn't happen. You elect to be in a union or not. That means that if you elect to be in IEA you start paying union dues and if you do not elect to to be in the union you do not pay dues.

Union is as union dues

You're missing the point: The BSD teachers' union negotiated this clause into the master contract. It's not about "Professional Development". That's merely a faux title.

It's pretty clear we're paying BSD teachers' for union activities that have nothing to do with professional development or professional leave.

The same teachers voted against the SCF laws during the Delegate Assembly then started collecting signatures to overturn those laws while getting paid by we taxpayers! Yup, that's purely political...ain't nuthin' professional about it!

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

Sure sounds like a Boise problem, not an Idaho one

Let's see:

You cite some provisions of the Boise contract. There are other school districts. So why not simply press Boise's district to do it right, rather than burden the state?

Moreover, this explains only prop 1 (and even that only to a limited extent.)

What does that have to do with buying laptops for the kids of millionaires?

It's an Idaho problem because any school district could adopt...

similar provisions.

The Boise Education Assn owns the Boise School District which is a problem Prop 1 takes care of.

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

News Flash, Genius.

The Boise School District endorses the Vote NO position, and its Board has quit the Idaho School Boards Association due their lack of confidence in its deceptive director and the association generally. The Boise School District has enjoyed a collaborative and successful relationship with the Boise Education Association, and it is reflected in the student achievement there.

Vote NO on Props 1, 2 and 3.

Idaho School Boards Association?

Isn't that another name for a union? Oh that's right, my unions are good, everyone elses' are bad.

Jones, I hope you have some

Jones, I hope you have some facts, not alleged facts, to support your comment the ISBA director is deceptive. Explain please.

Echeverria used "Deceptive Tactics" . . .

I do stand corrected - it was originally reported that the Boise School Board quit - but evidently that still hangs in the balance:

From their draft letter:

"Our concern is that Ms. Echeverria intentionally eliminated every opportunity possible for ISBA members to hear or share a view of the laws other than her own and used deceptive tactics throughout the process to ensure her policy view was adopted by the Executive Board."

Echeverria attended a Boise School Board meeting in September to encourage the Boise board to renew its membership with ISBA. But Boise trustees said Echeverria failed to mention the ISBA's Executive Board's "yes" vote on Proposition 1, until after the Boise School Board had already put its membership renewal check in the mail.

Using union tactics against the union...what a novel idea!!!

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

The Boise district believes

The Boise district believes so strongly about working with the teacher's association that when it became illegal last year to have anything but pay and benefits in a contract, they moved everything else they had collaborated on for years into a binding handbook. If you are so freaked out about the district paying Andrew Rath's (the local union boss) salary go meet him. Go to the monthly BEA meeting. If after doing either of those you still doubt they are committed to providing the best education possible I will apologize and praise your amazing Ed Powers.

Again, why are taxpayers funding union activities?

That's the issue at hand. Incidentally, whether or not I like or have met the union boss is irrelevant. Whether or not my taxes pay that union boss's salary is the issue.

You do bring up an interesting point: To skirt the SCF laws, Boise School District is apparently engaging in illegal activities via a "binding handbook" treating it as though it's an addendum to the Master Contract.

Do you have a link to that handbook you mention? :)

If anything, you just proved my point. The teachers' union controls the Boise School District.

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

It has been explained to him . . .

It has been explained to him, over and over, in words of two syllables and less, that those provisions of the contract are there because the Boise School District agreed to them. Some people remain ignorant because they cannot be educated; some remain willfully ignorant.

You'd be a lousy teacher...

JamesGatz: "It has been explained to you over and over."

Yep, you'd be the most worthless teacher anyone could fathom! The only difference is that I know your ignorance stems from union bias.

Eliminating tenure was designed for lousy teachers clinging to their "it has been explained over and over" entitlement mentality.

Vote Yes on Props 1, 2 & 3!!! Got Laptops?

Does our attorney general merely rubber stamp.....

Does our attorney general merely rubber stamp and back the actions of the political hacks, bad actors in Idaho government and the lobbyist who influence them? I hope Big Ben is well represented today as he fights to win one for Idaho Citizens specific to our Sunshine Laws.

Parents, Teachers, Students, and yes, even the teachers Union earned our trust.
Lobbyists, Legislators, and the trouble For-profit education industry did not.

Abramoff: "Fire up the jet baby, we're going to El Paso!!" Mike Scanlon: "I want all their MONEY!!!" Email interchange between Jack Abramoff and Mike Scanlon, February 6, 2002

Weak? Not by a Long Shot.

Perhaps it's finally time that the secret be revealed. The big, bad teachers union in Idaho is simply an organization made up of educators and support staff with a penchant for teacher and student advocacy. The "thugs" behind the curtain are really just dedicated, selfless educators who want what's best for Idaho's public schools and their children. They have been around for 120 years - and plan to be around for a long, long time to come.

Perhaps this is the one silver lining to all of this madness - the revelation that the word "union" means just that - the joining together of like-minded people to collaborate and advocate for their particular cause - where standing alone leaves one ineffective and, as we have seen, potentially devoured by greed and corruption.

Personally, I'm proud of the IEA and the folks who have gathered together to beat down Luna and his lying, cheating, money-grubbing comrades. It was never their focus, never their mission - but when push came to shove, they shoved, together with parents and Idaho citizens, and shoved HARD. "Weak" should be the last word that comes to mind when describing Idaho's teachers and their association.


Yet I'm sure you find no problem with...

sending lame duck representative, tax scofflaw Phil Hart to the right wing ALEC convention in Salt Lake City this past summer. No benefit to the state to pay to send him since his term is up.


YES on PROPS 1, 2 and 3 folks. Everyone I know is voting this way as its the right thing to do for our schools, good teachers and schools overall.

EagleWing, everyone I know is voting NO

so, sorry about that. Education can't be 'reformed' in any useful way by attacking teachers. That's just dumb.


Only has two friends: Tom Luna and Towm8r.

Or is that one friend . . .

when you think about it.

I'll be voting NO

I'll be voting NO on all three, as will be the majority of my aquaintances. Now you know someone who is voting NO.

Send these laws back, and then let's do it right by including teachers in the drafting of a real plan.

Will you vote in all your

Aliases as well saigon?

When the students start paying union dues, the Teachers Unions will start caring about the students. The teachers unions will make the changes that allow the improvement of the educational opportunities available to the students or the Teachers Unions will become extinct.

what the h e l l?

what the h e l l is a "saigon?"

Have You Ever Wondered Why?

Unions have historically used force, fear and intimidation to get their way. Have you ever wondered why? First, in the earliest days of unionization those tactics were used against them. But, in the twentieth century, that began to wane at least on management's side. Not so on labor's side. They continued to use unfair and often illegal tactics to get their way. In unionized shops, people are still strong-armed into compliance.

Union big shots often force dissenters out of meetings and then take votes. In this election, unions have to PAY member's to go to opposition meetings and protest often disputing and bullying people who think differently. These are bully tactics. They employ these tactics because unions lose in fair elections. Union votes are not about ideas but about power and influence peddling and money - BIG money.

Anytime Americans are given a fair and even chance to do the right thing they will. However unions can’t take a chance on that so, most often, the only way they know how to behave is by bullying, fear, force and intimidation. That is why we must defeat them whenever and wherever we can. Collective bargaining is a good thing. But unfair and illegal behavior when it is associated with collective bargaining is an evil thing.

Do the right thing given the chance?

Read "The Jungle."

You are living over 100

years in the past.

This Sounds Familiar...

JLF says, [with respect to unions]:"That is why we must defeat them whenever and wherever we can."

Sounds exactly like something Hitler or Stalin would say.

I feel like I've gone back 70-80 years in time and am witnessing history in a modern context.