People ask me for my opinion on Idaho’s Props 1, 2, & 3 so, here you go:
Prop 1..;is unnecessary. Why? Because in it’s zest to “break the Union” Idaho is making a common mistake—let me give you an example: The State of Idaho is attempting to solve a problem that doesn’t exist here, much like term limits. If you’re old enough to remember when term limits were all the rage you probably remember that “Idaho needs term limits to get rid of long term legislators like Ted Kennedy.” Which always begged the question: “How does limiting the length of term for the Bonner County Sheriff solve the problem of Ted Kennedy getting reelected over and over?” It’s a symbolic and constricting move. Why? Because the Union serves more as a Organization of Business Professionals than an ‘east coast style’ Union. Come on, be honest, “breaking” a Union in Idaho is a lot like beating up a kid in a wheelchair–sure you can do it–but why? In Idaho the Teachers Union brings an important voice to the table. Teachers are child advocates and the Union creates a situation where that voice of advocacy can be directed accessed (or confronted) and improves the conversation about education.
Removing voices from the education debate is a bad idea. Prop 1 looks to be a craven attempt to pretend to solve a National problem that doesn’t exist at our local level. In the end it does nothing but put a easy skin on a politician’s walls at a time when we should be worried about other, weightier matters.
OH and by the way there is no TENURE in Idaho. What we do use is called a continuing contract. Every year I sign a 2 year contract, this protects me and it protects the school. Because I’m selfish it lets me know I’ve got a job next year but it also guarantees the school that I’ll return the next year as well. If you’re a crap teacher then guess what? You don’t get to re-signed and you’ve got a year to get it together before your contract expires and…you’re out of work. The idea of the un-fire-able teacher is not true in Idaho. It’s an myth about teachers “out there in liberal land” and it’s a problem that doesn’t need to be fixed here. You can get fired. It’s not that hard–just be bad at your job and refuse to improve and you’ll be gone in a year.
Prop 2: Not a fan. Why? Because how that “incentive pay” is earned is a true matter of debate. There’s state rules…local rules…convoluted mathematics and in the end? You end up teaching the ISAT answers because your bonus is measured “by Standard” and that makes you teach to the “Standard”. It’s the epitome of Socialism: If you can get the same outcome for every child whether dumb them down or smart them up? You get a prize. I would be more in favor of simply giving districts discretionary funds and saying, “You know who deserves it–give it out”. By the way, if you’re the greatest teacher a crappy school has ever seen? No dough for you…meaning incentive to abandon underachieving schools and students–the ones who most need good teachers.
Prop 3: No again. Not because technology is bad, but because top down, one size fits all, government mandates are BAD. Why not take that 180m and let Buhl apply for grant to do what is best for them? Why not let Boise do the same. Top down, government mandates that say: “Everyone does it this way so every kid comes out like this” are in the end, Socialism at it’s finest. Why not let districts compete for the money? Why impose a bureaucrat’s vision on the people with boots on the ground. If you want tech? FUND TECH. Distance learning and teaching webs would be fabulous for small, rural districts while larger urban ones may want to do things a bit different. More government in education isn’t the answer.
No on 1, 2 and 3. Yes to more voice, yes to more flexibility, yes to more innovation.
No on more government intrusion.
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