Idaho Law Is the Latest in a String of GOP-Backed Anti-Teacher Legislation

The growing Republican assault on teachers' unions has spread to Idaho, where last night Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter signed a law that could lead to teacher layoffs in the state. Reuters reports:

The bill...forces districts to equip high schools with mobile computing devices and potentially shifts funds from teacher pay to technology.

It also could lead to the layoffs of some teachers and certain positions going unfilled, officials said....

The measure was the last of three Republican-backed education bills that Otter has signed into law in recent weeks.

The other two bills ended tenure for new teachers, instituted merit pay and removed discussions of workload and class size from contract negotiations for the 12,000 teachers represented by the Idaho Education Association.

Over the past few months, Republicans have increasingly branded teachers as Enemy #1, arguing that their unions have too much power and that the teaching profession has become too cushy. (As anyone who is acquainted with a teacher knows, the reality is that most of them work incredibly hard without nearly enough support, financial or otherwise.) This has happened most famously in Wisconsin, but anti-teacher legislation is also being considered in Indiana, Tennessee, and other states.

A band of Idaho parents and other education supporters is fighting back against Otter's legislation, according to the Idaho Reporter:

Critics of the plan...held an event at the Capitol that included filing paperwork with the secretary of state to put a referendum for the changes on the 2012 ballot. Mike Lanza, a freelance writer and parent in Boise, is spearheading the effort with the new political group Idahoans for Responsible Education Reform.

“Idahoans made it clear that they do not want to trade teachers for laptops and require online classes,” Lanza said.

Getting a referendum on the ballot would require more than 47,000 signatures from registered voters. Those signatures need to be collected within two months after the end of the legislative session.

The Idaho Spokesman-Review has more from Lanza on the fight against the legislation:

"[W]e do not support laws that accomplish little beyond denigrating teachers. The governor and Legislature rammed this plan through against the overwhelming opposition of the public. They passed it despite being told by administrators and teachers who will have to implement this poorly designed plan that it will be a financial and educational disaster for Idaho's public schools.”

He said, “The truth is we should not have to pursue this referendum effort. We should be able to rely on our elected representatives to respect the will of their constituents. By signing the last bill this morning, Gov. Otter sent a clear message that he, Supt. Luna and their supporters in the Legislature have chosen their political agenda over public opinion.”

"Political agenda over public opinion" -- something we're seeing a lot of these days.

AlterNet / By Lauren Kelley

Posted at April 9, 2011, 6:07am

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