2012 LEGISLATURE REPORT CARD
How well did the k-12 Idaho Education System fare with the 2012 Legislative session? From an education standpoint many improvements were made although a couple of important items were left undone. Following is a brief description of the many plusses and a couple of incompletes:
HB 426: This legislation sets up a program in the State Department of Education that pays a portion of a student’s college course expense while the student is still in high-school. It further advances what many schools are doing today, providing opportunities for their students to accelerate their education. Assistant principal of the Vallivue High School Julie Yamamoto said, “The school has worked with parents to develop a system that allows the most motivated and mature students the chance to move ahead. We recognize that times have changed and we need to be a lot more versatile.” This legislation provides schools, students and parents that versatility. Hopefully, many of our most motivated and capable students will use this program to not only advance their education program but also to shave off a good portion of the cost of a college education.
H0534: This legislation eliminated the requirement of 3 years teaching experience before a teacher would be eligible for a bonus for assuming a leadership role. Today we have many new teachers that are just entering the profession that have had years of experience in other professions and perhaps other leadership roles as well. The State should not be determining the criteria for eligibility. The local school board should make that determination.
HB 481: This legislation took care of the “cap” issue, which has penalized our State, our students and parents since our first charter school legislation was approved over a decade ago. Our current charter school statute was viewed as an unfriendly law because of the “cap,” which has been harmful to our applications for grants and awards.
This legislation amends Idaho Code 33-5203(2)(a) to remove the growth cap of six new public charter schools per year, and to remove the cap of one new public charter school per district per year. With this legislation our Idaho charter school law is now ranked 12th in the country, a big improvement.
SB 1217: This Legislation clarified that the requirement to include a parental input component in teacher evaluations beginning in the 2012-2013 school year be aligned with the same requirement for the evaluation of administrators.
HB 694: This bill easily passed the House and was not heard in the Senate Education Committee. It provided that all employees of a school district shall be informed of all of their options in regards to professional liability insurance available through education employee associations. To that end school districts shall disclose a provider list to all employees of education employee associations. The bill, if allowed to become law, leveled the “playing field” for education associations other than the Idaho Education Association. Currently the teacher’s union (The IEA) has a monopoly on access to teachers and this bill would have given other associations the same access. Perhaps in 2013 this legislation can be passed by both Houses and on to the Governor’s desk.
SB1237: This legislation amended the definition of an online course. Current language prohibited the teacher from being in the same location or school where the course is being taken. This legislation provided that the definition of online course is more appropriately defined in administrative rule.
SB (1327) (1328) and (1329): This legislation amends many provisions of Students Come First that were contained in SB 1110, approved in 2011 by the legislature and signed by the Governor.
HB 670: This bill would have provided a credit on state income taxes to individuals and corporations that make donations to scholarship granting organizations that provide scholarships to qualified k-12 students attending approved schools. This legislation would have made school choice available to more students, especially to the less affluent. Again, perhaps this legislation or something similar will find its way to the Governor’s office in 2013.
SB 1410: This bill appropriated for public schools $1,566,813.00, a slight increase over the prior year. It again represented the legislatures commitment to k-12 education.
In summary, the 2012 legislature treated public schools very well. They continued to receive the lion’s share of the State’s general fund revenue and while there were a couple of items left undone, the overall grade was a very good one.