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Posts tagged: IEA

IEA releases ‘Education Excellence’ report from teachers on how to improve schools

The Idaho Education Association has released a report on its recommendations to improve public schools in Idaho, a year in the making from the IEA’s Education Excellence Task Force, which included a dozen top teachers from around the state. The recommendations range from making preschool universally available to low-income families in Idaho and moving to full-day kindergarten to an end to social promotion; from a streamlined dismissal process for underperforming teachers to a“state clearinghouse of quality online courses developed and taught by Idaho teachers.”

“We believe that there’s something here for everyone,” said IEA president Penni Cyr. “We understand that not all of these ideas may be immediately embraced, and we’re confident many other good ideas will come out of the (governor’s education stakeholder) task force, but we believe we’ve offered a useful framework for addressing the different areas of our school system where meaningful change is not only possible but could pay significant dividends for our children, our workforce, and our state.”

You can read the IEA’s full report here. IEA spokeswoman Whitney Rearick said, “Everybody’s asking us what are our ideas and thoughts. Now we’ve come out with it.”

IEA responds to Ysursa’s disclosure demand

The Idaho Education Association has sent a response to the Idaho Secretary of State's office's demand that it disclose its contributors, since it made in-kind contributions to the “No on Props 1,2,3” campaign of more than $180,000. In the letter from its attorney, the IEA says it's not a political committee, but does fall under under a clause in Idaho law for a “non-business entity,” a category for non-profit organizations that in the previous year have received contributions or membership fees that exceed 10 percent of its receipts for the year. Under Idaho law, a “non-business entity” is required to disclose all contributions of more than $500, as opposed to political committees, which must disclose all contributions of more than $50.

The IEA said its money all came from annual member dues that are less than $500. So it'll formally declare itself a non-business entity and file the required disclosure forms, but it won't have any contributions over $500 to disclose. In a news release, IEA chief counsel Paul Stark said, “The IEA has always endeavored to be fully compliant with all laws that pertain to the organization. We will continue to do that as we have throughout our 120-year history.”

To qualify as a “non-business entity” under Idaho law, an organization must have been in existence for at least a calendar year. That means the new group that sparked the issue, Education Voters of Idaho, which just formed in August, isn't a “non-business entity.” The Secretary of State's office contends EVI is a political committee that must disclose contributors over $50; a 4th District judge has set a hearing on the issue for Friday.
  

Popkey: State spends $$ to send Hart to ALEC confab, hire PR firm on Lowe case; IEA spends to back Repubs

Among a boatload of interesting items posted on the Idaho Statesman's Idaho Politics blog by columnist Dan Popkey are these:

* At least five Idaho lawmakers are off to Salt Lake this week for the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) conference, including defeated Rep. Phil Hart, R-Athol, who is traveling at state expense, as is Rep. Vito Barbieri, R-Dalton Gardens. Popkey reports that Sen. Patti Anne Lodge, R-Huston, the Idaho state chair for ALEC, opted to go at her own expense; read his full post here.

* In the primary election, the Idaho Education Association funneled $9,320 into a new PAC called Idaho Republicans for our Schools, which used the money for robo-calls supporting five GOP legislative candidates: GOP Sens. Shawn Keough, Tim Corder and Dean Cameron, and GOP candidates Stan Bastian and Alan Ward. Rick Jones of Rathdrum, IEA vice president, a Republican and the treasurer of the new PAC, told Popkey, “There are many Idaho educators who are Republicans. What we're saying is let's vote for Republicans who support public education, they're not mutually exclusive.” You can read Popkey's full item here.

* Word that Holland & Hart, the private law firm hired by the state to defend it against former ITD chief Pam Lowe's wrongful-firing lawsuit, spent $4,419 in state money to hire Gallatin Public Affairs Group for “litigation assistance” in the first half of 2010, including advice on how the lawsuit would be portrayed in the news media. Read the full report here.

IEA endorses Simpson over LeFavour

The Idaho Education Association's political fundraising arm endorsed Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson in his 2012 election against Democrat Nicole LeFavour, the Twin Falls Times-News reports, via the Associated Press. The endorsement has raised questions, because Simpson is a supporter of Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna, the architect of “Students Come First” education overhauls that the union is attempting to repeal this November.

Simpson gave $1,000 to Luna's election campaign in 2010, while LeFavour voted against the reforms as a state senator in 2011. The Times-News reports the decision to support Simpson was “completely member-driven,” according to the union. Click below for the full AP/Times-News report.

Teacher talks fail in at least 21 Idaho school districts, under new reform law

At least 21 Idaho school districts are unilaterally imposing contract terms on teachers this week, after failing to reach agreement with local teachers unions - an option for districts under the state's controversial “Students Come First” school reform law.
 
In the Lakeland School District in Kootenai County, members of the Lakeland Education Association voted 96 percent “no” on the district's last offer on salaries and benefits for the coming year, which, like the past four years, includes no base salary increase, but did offer some small thaws in the multi-year pay freeze. “The law is pretty strict now,” said Lakeland business manager Tom Taggart. “So pretty much what they rejected, we just turned around to the board and the board approved it.”

Other North Idaho school districts unilaterally imposing contract terms this week include Kellogg, Mullan and Wallace; in southern Idaho, they range from small districts like Middleton and Cascade to larger ones like Idaho Falls, Nampa and Caldwell. Carrie Scozzaro, a high school art teacher and outgoing president of the Lakeland association, said teachers feel like they're no longer being listened to as professionals. “There's that sort of hopelessness of not being part of the process and being accused of being part of the problem, which is frustrating,” she said.

The Students Come First laws included rolling back most collective bargaining rights for teachers; limiting contract negotiations to salary and benefits and making all contract terms expire each year; and shifting funds from salaries to merit-pay bonuses, a new focus on online learning, and laptop computers for high school students. State schools Superintendent Tom Luna, who proposed the reforms, said it's good news that just 21 of Idaho's 130 school districts and charter schools weren't able to reach agreement by strict new deadlines. “They said there would be strikes, there would be walkouts, there would be lawsuits - none of that has happened,” Luna said Wednesday. “If you measure this against the doomsday scenario that they painted, I think this is very positive news.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
  

New statewide poll commissioned by IEA: Luna’s unfavorables soar from a year ago

The Idaho Education Association has released partial results of a poll it commissioned both last year and this year, showing that likely voters in Idaho continue to have strongly favorable views of teachers, but give state schools Supt. Tom Luna considerably higher unfavorable ratings now than a year ago. “Superintendent Luna is currently on a taxpayer-funded tour to try and sell the bad laws that he pushed through the Idaho Legislature this year,” said IEA President Sherri Wood. “But Idahoans rightly remain skeptical of these laws that impose costly new mandates on our school districts and will lead to larger class sizes and lost Idaho jobs.”

The poll, conducted by Grove Insight of Portland, Ore., queried 600 registered Idaho voters likely to vote in November 2012 from March 13-15 this year; it had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent. When asked about their impression of teachers, 75 percent of respondents had favorable views, compared to 77 percent a year ago. Just 6 percent had unfavorable views, down from 7 percent in March of 2010. Asked about Luna, respondents were 25 percent favorable and 41 percent unfavorable, compared to last year's results of 30 percent favorable, 18 percent unfavorable. Respondents who were neutral on Luna fell from 51 percent to 30 percent.

Asked their view of the IEA, the Idaho teachers union, respondents were 47 percent favorable, up from 39 percent a year ago; and 19 percent unfavorable, down from 22 percent in March of 2010. You can read the IEA's full statement here.
  

IEA files suit to challenge SB 1108, the teacher-contracts bill

The Idaho Education Association filed a lawsuit in 4th District Court in Ada County today challenging the constitutionality of SB 1108, the bill to remove most collective bargaining rights from Idaho teachers, and related “trailer” bills including one adding an emergency clause to that measure. “Because the Legislature, Gov. Otter and State Superintendent Luna failed to listen to the voices of Idaho citizens and, in the case of SB 1108 and the trailer bills, overstepped their legal bounds, the IEA supports citizen efforts to place referenda on the ballot challenging the Luna laws,” said Sherri Wood, IEA president.  “Likewise, we will challenge the constitutionality of SB 1108 and the trailer bills.”

You can read the group's legal complaint here, and its news release here, and read our full story here at spokesman.com.

NEA president in Boise talk on Luna plan: ‘It’s about political payback’

The president of the National Education Association, Dennis Van Roekel, spoke to the Idaho Education Association's delegate assembly today in Boise, and spoke out against the Idaho school reform bills pushed by state schools Superintendent Tom Luna. He likened the Luna legislation to moves against public employee unions in Wisconsin and other states, and said it's “not about education. What it’s about is political payback. It’s about wealthy CEOs who put themselves before country and put making money before everything else. It’s the wrong direction for America.”

You can read the IEA's full news release here.

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About this blog

Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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