Education Referendums on November Ballot
A look at the citizen propositions regarding education
The legislature passed three major education reform bills in 2011 that are being challenged by opponents of the legislation through three different referendums (propositions) that will be before the voters to accept or reject in the November 6 general election.
Proposition 1 is a “referendum to approve or reject legislation limiting negotiated agreements between teachers and local school boards and ending the practice of issuing renewable contracts.”
Proposition 1 refers to Senate Bill 1108 (S1108) passed in the 2011 legislative session that “relates to labor relations and employee entitlements.” Some of the provisions in S1108 include:
Phasing out tenure for all teachers not covered by tenure provisions upon passage of the legislation and replacing it with one- or two-year teaching contracts.
Providing for parent feedback in evaluating teacher performance.
Eliminating the 99 percent average daily attendance protection feature of the state funding formula and replacing it with a 10 percent severance fee for positions eliminated because of decreased enrollment.
Limiting the length of negotiated labor agreements to one year.
Limiting collective bargaining to just salaries and benefits.
Requiring that all labor negotiations be conducted in public meetings.
Proposition 2 is a “referendum to approve or reject legislation providing teacher performance pay based on state-mandated test scores, student performance, hard-to-fill positions and leadership.”
Proposition 2 refers to Senate Bill 1110 (S1110) passed in the 2011 legislative session that instituted a “pay for performance system.” The plan “rewards teachers and administrators on a school wide basis for student achievement as determined by academic growth. Local districts will also reward schools based on growth as determined at the local level. Teachers may also be rewarded for teaching in hard to fill positions and for taking on leadership roles such as mentoring, creating curriculum, grant writing and obtaining National Board Certification.”
Proposition 3 refers to Senate Bill 1184 (S1184) and relates to “public school modernization and reform.” S1184 “re-prioritizes statutory requirements to strategically invest in Idaho’s educators and technology, and increases transparency for Idaho’s public school system.” S1184 provides requirements for “implementation of online courses, one-to-one mobile computing devices (laptop computers) and other advanced technology in the classroom.”
S1184 “provides high school teachers with mobile computing devices first in the rollout beginning with the 2012-2013 school year. Provides one-third of high school students access to mobile computing devices beginning with the 2013-2014 school year until all students have access to such devices by 2015-2016.” The legislation also “requires the State Board of Education to create digital citizenship standards, and to consider adding online courses as a graduation requirement for the class of 2016.”
These are controversial propositions and supporters and opponents are expected to conduct extensive campaigns supporting the continued implementation of the 2011 legislation or rejecting any one or all three of the controversial pieces of legislation.
Changes in the legislation, including funding provisions and online credit requirements, have been addressed by the 2012 Legislature and the State Board of Education but continuing opposition to the 2011 legislation still exists, resulting in opponents being successful in obtaining enough signatures qualifying the three referendums to be placed before the voters for their approval or rejection in the November 6 general election.
The legislation represents major changes in public school policy and I encourage voters to obtain as much information as possible on the pros and cons of the referendums before voting on November 6. A “YES” vote on the ballot will mean that you approve the legislation as passed by the 2011 Legislature and a “NO” vote means you reject the legislation passed by the 2011 Legislature.
Thanks for reading and as always please feel free to contact me with questions relating to this article or other issues important to you. I can be reached by phone at (208) 265-0123, by mail at P.O. Box 112, Dover, 83825 or by email at geskridge(at)coldreams.com.