IEA HOTLINE Podcast

Idaho Legislature - 2023 Adjournment & Education Outcomes

April 14, 2023 Mike Journee Season 1 Episode 13
Idaho Legislature - 2023 Adjournment & Education Outcomes
IEA HOTLINE Podcast
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IEA HOTLINE Podcast
Idaho Legislature - 2023 Adjournment & Education Outcomes
Apr 14, 2023 Season 1 Episode 13
Mike Journee

The Idaho Legislature adjourned last week and the results for public education and IEA members were nothing short of monumental. 

Historic pay raises for both certified educators and education support professionals and the defeat seven voucher bills proved the influence of IEA members is real and important for education policy in Idaho.

In our final HOTLINE Podcast of the year, IEA’s Political Director Chris Parri and Associate Executive Director Matt Compton offer analysis of the session’s results and next steps for education policy in Idaho. 

 

Show Notes Transcript

The Idaho Legislature adjourned last week and the results for public education and IEA members were nothing short of monumental. 

Historic pay raises for both certified educators and education support professionals and the defeat seven voucher bills proved the influence of IEA members is real and important for education policy in Idaho.

In our final HOTLINE Podcast of the year, IEA’s Political Director Chris Parri and Associate Executive Director Matt Compton offer analysis of the session’s results and next steps for education policy in Idaho. 

 

Mike Journee:

Welcome to Idaho Education Association's HOTLINE podcast, a weekly discussion about what's happening at the Idaho legislature around public education and the policy priorities of IEA members. IEA members are public school educators from all over the state. They're Idaho's most important education experts, and they use their influence to fight for a free quality and equitable public education for every student in the state. I'm Mike journee, communications director at the IEA, and I'll be your host for this episode of HOTLINE. The Idaho Legislature adjourned last week and the results for public education and IEA members are nothing short of monumental historic pay raises for both certified educators and education support professionals. And the defeat of seven voucher bills proved the influence of IEA members is real and important for public education policy in Idaho. In our final hotline podcast of the year, political director Chris Parri, and Associate Executive Director Matt Compton join me for an analysis of the sessions results, and next steps for education policy in Idaho. Well, Matt, Chris, thanks a lot for joining me for the last edition of the 2023 hotline podcast. Of course, we'll be getting this back up and running again, next legislative session. But we finished up the legislative session last week. And like we've been telling our members, this has been just a phenomenal session for public education. As Paul likes to say, for all the things that happened and all the things that didn't happen. The pay raises that came forward 145 million for certified educators. It's a huge number. It's going to put Idaho and near the top 10 for competitive teacher pay, and that's in the country. 97 million for education support professionals. It's going to go in, it's been great, you know, and then the seven voucher bills that were defeated. Chris, you did fantastic work on that...you too Matt, both you guys, everybody. The whole lobby team was in there working on those and and it's it was it was pretty phenomenal. Right up to the end. I think our members are going to be really happy we're moving into new session into into the delegate assembly, I think we're going to hear a lot of a lot of positive thoughts about that. What do you what do you guys think?

Chris Parri:

I mean, not to be insufferably humble. But none of those voucher bills would have gone down without our members taking action throughout the entire session to I mean, it's it's a humbling experience going through that session. Matt's been through more than I have, I'm sure he can talk about it too. But it is definitely humbling to know the impacts that you are capable of having alone. And then looking at how it just explodes when you actually have good educators in the building talking to legislators throughout the whole course of the session, big Lobby Day and little local lobby days to

Matt Compton:

So that I can be the Debbie Downer and talk about, you know, the things that didn't get discussed in the building that should have, you know, leading into the session, the most prominent conversation that we heard from members had to do with behavioral issues in schools. And we made that a focus and a feature. For lobby days, our members almost exclusively spoke about that topic area. And there wasn't a single piece of legislation that was drafted to even take into consideration or to address the issue. I was at lunch the other day. And I was, I guess I was feeling a little feisty, I thought, you know, there were more bills to distinguish the rattlesnake as a predatory animal, then there were pieces of legislation to address the mental health issues in schools. And I just think that that's obscene.

Chris Parri:

Yeah. Where are the priorities for some folks in that building? Looking at? It was, yeah, rattlesnakes becoming predators? Almost a dinosaur announced we do, but that's awesome. I highly support that. I'm glad they took time to do that. But yeah, I mean, it was it's interesting to know, just like, because all of those conversations that that our members had with those legislators during lobby day in the local lobby days to had some aspect of talking about how difficult it is, in terms of classroom management, with behavioral and mental health problems plaguing schools, and students in their colleagues everywhere. And yeah, I mean, we knew looking at the makeup of the education committees, that there was gonna be a push on policy, basically a stalemate on policy. But I hoped that this was something that was universal and, you know, visible enough for everybody that there would be some political will to get it through. But it really is a huge disappointment that we didn't see any policy on that front, that's for sure. Yeah.

Mike Journee:

Facilities was something else that didn't get talked about too. So that that's, that's a huge need. We all know it. All of our education stakeholders that work with us at the Statehouse are eager for something to be done. So I mean, it's there's there's a lot that needs to be done still in public education. All that said still was a great session. Fantastic.

Matt Compton:

Very true.

Mike Journee:

I, so So that money is on the table now. Right? So so just for a little bit of background, when the legislature allocates money for Educator pay, or for education period, that money goes to the school districts and a large percentage of that money is what they call discretionary funding. It's and school districts have some leeway as to how they use that funding, right? Lawmakers put that money that we just talked about into school budgets, specifically for Educator pay raises. But now, it's up to our locals, so to our local education associations to go and negotiate with the school districts and going get that money for pay raises in their school district in their right. Yep.

Matt Compton:

So negotiations will likely kick off here pretty soon in all of the different school districts. One of the, I guess, significant features of of the Idaho Education Association is yes, yes, we do provide do you ensure that due process is provided, but in the collective numbers of our members, that's where the power comes from. And when you when you have a large and robust local association, that that makes negotiations ever more stronger for the educators who are at the table. And this is a great opportunity, I see two opportunities here, increased in salaries for everybody in the building. And with the additional discretionary money, some of that, which has a great amount of flexibility, some of it, which is earmarked for insurance should continue to, you know, help pay down those burdening costs of insurance. And so folks should see an increase to their paycheck in several different ways. One, you know, better pay, and, and two, they're paying less out of pocket for insurance.

Mike Journee:

Which is extraordinarily important. You know, we've seen a huge exodus of educators and our public schools in recent years, and a large part of that is due to pay, and the fact that and not not just certified educators, but but all educators, even education support professionals, especially the education support professionals, the ones who, who are making the lunches and, and taking temperatures and, and doing all the things that that that helped make the school run driving buses. So those folks are going to get should get a good pay raise. And that's, that's going to be important to the, to the cohesion.

Matt Compton:

Yeah, the governor hung his hat on teacher pay during the State of the State by saying that this is supposed to attract and retain highly qualified educators and from you know, from the jump, this was designed to do just that to keep the teachers that we have and to attract new teachers out to university, to either come to Idaho or stay in Idaho once they graduate. So that we have the again, highly qualified, skillful educators at the head of all of classrooms in Idaho.

Chris Parri:

Right, I think, you know, you look at one of the governor's signature pieces of legislation this year, the launch program, as well. And early on. Part of that, that will essentially the launch program will provide scholarships to in demand career, people who are like headed to college for in demand careers. So nurses, for example, and educators. So this will help pay some of those high cost of college tuition for aspiring educators, as a way to kind of supplement the other injections of funding to the career ladder and other places too. So you do see see kind of a holistic approach to addressing this issue. Obviously, a lot more has to be done. But I think that you are seeing folks address kind of this across the board,

Mike Journee:

right? And our locals are going are the IEA has been holding training for a number of locals to go and learn how to bargain to do it. We do it every year as part of of the benefit of being an IEA local. And, and so they've been engaged with that our region directors have been highly engaged with that training. And they're they're helping all their locals in the various regions, prepare for those conversations and have the right numbers in their head when they sit down and negotiate those contracts. So Chris, this session wouldn't wouldn't have been possible without extraordinary allies for public education. Over at the State House, of course, Governor Brad little top of the top of the heap by far. Matt mentioned that during his State of the State, he brought forward these proposals, almost all of his key proposals for public education went through the legislature. fully intact. It's fantastic and all along he had had our members back Senator Dave Lent in the in the Senate Education Committee, God bless him. And that committee was a very, very difficult committee, this session...a lot of members who want to dismantle public education on that committee, and got elected specifically to do that. And so our members are going to be engaged in that. Going forward on elections. And then on the House side, Representative Julie Yamamoto, the chairman of the House Education Committee, a lot of allies. There's a lot of allies in that committee, that that you probably want to give a little shout out to here.

Chris Parri:

Yeah, let's, you know, I think some of them came out of the woodwork for sure. I mean, like Representative Dan Garner, for example. He's a former school board member. He's from Clifton, Idaho, in southeastern Idaho. And he wasn't really on our radar at the beginning of the session, but he turned out to be such an excellent advocate for public schools. And just a reason another great reasonable voice on a committee that was really kind of full of them. You had the vice chair of House Education, Lorie McCann...Rep. Lori McCann from Lewiston. Fantastic. You had representative Greg Lanting out of Twin Falls, who became a extremely like, just a great fighter for for these issues, and really calling out BS where it showed up. And we know when the legislature shows up in quite a few places, but he wasn't having any of it. Jack Nelson out of Jerome also a great advocate, particularly on vouchers spoke up quite a bit in those hearings where we heard, you know, seven voucher bills or whatever they were Mark Souter out of soundpoint. And then, of course, Representative Steve Birch represents Sonia Galaviz and Representative Chris Mathias all of Boise. The Democrats on the committee doing great work as well. So that committee I think, really provided me a ton of hope, as like a model of where the legislature could be, you could have collaboration, not only across party lines, but geographic lines as well. I mean, we're talking about, you know, allies from Sandpoint all the way down to Clifton, right. Like these are, this is a massive range of folks. And I don't know, House Education was such a bright spot this year. And I'm so grateful that we have awesome relationships, and they have our members back.

Matt Compton:

And it's going to be important for members to actually reach out to these folks between now and the legislative session. Because the next the next legislative session, these folks, you know, they took a tremendous amount of heat from the enemies of public education, they were subjected to a lot of name calling, and they were threatened on on social media. And, you know, the kind of the radical fringe of their party is doing all that they possibly can to diminish their reputation. And, you know, they stood tall, in the face of, of some pretty horrible name calling and nonsense during the session, it'd be great for educators to reach out and thank those folks.

Chris Parri:

And these should be role models, I think, for the rest of the legislature to I mean, they stood up to, like you said a ton of pressure from the far right. And we know the far right represents a extremely small minority of people, they just happen to be the loudest. And over the years, I've seen the legislature kind of give them and a disproportional amount of their time that far right and contingent. So House Education Committee was not having it. I think they did a great job representing...

Mike Journee:

They were the bulwark against those seven voucher bills...

Chris Parri:

I mean, they really were, of course, Governor little played a big role in those in those as well. But but but it was, they were the they were the ones who who did the hard work right there on the front line of it.

Mike Journee:

And I didn't mean to skip over any of the allies on the on the Senate Education Committee, if you wanted to mention a couple of those, too, because there were some others on the committee other than Senator Dave Lent.

Chris Parri:

Well, yes. And yeah, obviously, Chairman, Chairman, Dave Lent went did a, yeah, he did God's work this this sessopm. I mean, he really handled a tough committee and did so professionally. He didn't just, you know, end every bad bill that came through, he allowed them to have hearings as needed, and kind of played the politics on the committee, I think, really smartly, not that it won him any favors from the others. They came after him just as hard as anyone we've already mentioned. But, you know, I think he struck a good balance on on being the chair, a professional chair and sticking up for public education, as he has done over the years, so he's a great one. Obviously, also, Senator Janoie Ward-Engelking, longtime educator....

Mike Journee:

And IEA member...

Chris Parri:

An IEA memberr. she, she had some really incisive questioning, obviously, Senate Education, so a lot of these bad bills would appear first, and she just would cut through them. devastatingly not that it ended many of these bills because they there's such a huge majority of the far right on that committee, but she did a great job. And then Senator Kerry somewhere off and particularly when it came to special education, because you hear a lot is particularly on the voucher bill stuff about how this would be great for for kids who need special education services. And she was like, huh, Actually, I am a special education educator and y'all are so wrong. And I hope you're just wrong and not lying, because that's dark. But she did a great job sticking up for those students. And yeah, I mean, they deserve a medal or something. They're awesome.

Matt Compton:

Those those strong folks on on Senate Education deserve all the respect and attention as well. I'll again have to say this. It's almost like ridiculous. It's obscene that Senator Brian Lenney, who is a member of the Senate Education Committee, voted against the teacher appropriation pay bill, when it actually went through the Senate, he was only one of two votes to vote against the teacher pay bill, including Senator Dan Foreman from Moscow. And so I really do hope that educators hold these folks accountable for those their unspeakable votes.

Chris Parri:

Right. Two people voted against those teacher appropriations out of 105. Legislature, less than 1%, or sorry, less than 2% of the legislature. Yeah, that was a wild vote to take. And I think he needs to hear from our members about it, because she's,

Mike Journee:

And along those lines, you will be working on some legislative accountability work around around the results of this session, putting putting our member weight behind those who served Public Schools well, and against those who didn't. And so there's going to be a lot of that coming up. Of course, we don't have a legislative session, or sorry, we don't have a legislative election coming up this November. That'll be the following November. But we do have some other elections coming up this year that are going to be important for our members to be paying attention to, we get the first one coming up in May, we've got some bond and levy elections coming up, that are going to be essential. Many of these bond levies that are gonna be on the ballot in May, were ones that were on the ballot in March and didn't, didn't pass. So these folks are going to have to go back and take another another pass at trying to get this very essential. funding for our schools. Again, it's a shame that we have to rely on these bond levee elections to get there, because we're our school systems is chronically underfunded, has been for decades. And it's creating a lot of challenges for local districts to pay the bills. So, so those these bonds elections are very central.

Chris Parri:

They're huge. So we've harped on it quite a bit in the in some previous episodes, but the particularly in quarter lane, Post Falls and Lakeland. There's some massive levee and bond elections up there to determine you know, up to 30% of some of the school district budgets.

Mike Journee:

And of course, some failed in Marchj. And so I think folks are really redoubling their efforts to try to get him past

Chris Parri:

and, you know, we were talking a little bit about some some of the awesome folks that are in the legislature looking out for public education. In during that March election in Couer d'Alene, in the levy, there was a group that was pushing back against the levy and the treasurer of that group, putting out some pretty gross mail and, and advocating to basically defund Couer d'Alene schools, the treasurer was Representative Elaine Price who sits on the House Education Committee. It's just wild to me, that you have folks sitting on House Education, or Senate Education who actively work against your public schools, when your public school district says we need you know, 30% of our budget, if we lose 3% of our budget, we're going to cut school sports, music, teachers, all of it, you're gonna end up with bigger class sizes. These these people who are fighting against public school education on the committee's and those insane.

Matt Compton:

Five senators on the Senate Education Committee that either homeschool their kids or send them to a private parochial school, so not even engaged in public education whatsoever. And hope you're homeschooling is great, it's fine, fantastic. But it just seems it's lost in translation for me as to why these folks are the center point of making education policy for public education.

Chris Parri:

And it of course, it doesn't preclude or predict the way you're going to vote on some things if you homeschool your kid versus, you know, not, but it would be one thing to be at least intellectually curious and like, bring good faith to these conversations. But man, boy howdy. Sometimes you just gotta shake your head.

Mike Journee:

So so as collective bargaining is happening, this, this May election is going to be happening as well, then we're going to be looking to back to school, we're gonna be looking to school board elections in November. So back to school is a huge part of of our circle of work here at the IEA and how we we work on the year and that's when, when a lot of new educators are coming into school buildings. They're being recruited by by members to be part of the of the association. So that's coming up, we'll be supporting our members as best we can and all the work that they're going to be doing to recruit new members, which in turn, gives us more influence at the local level and at the state level. The more members we have the stronger under that there is the more that they're engaged, the stronger our association is, and the more we can do for public education. But but we do have school board elections coming up in November. And, Chris, you've been, you've been reaching out to folks, we've been talking a lot about that. That's almost as important as as having a strong education committee in either the House or the Senate, having a strong local, pro public education school board is essential. And we're seeing the effects of of and many schools around the state where they don't have a strong one. And it's been it's it's a real challenge.

Chris Parri:

Yeah. I mean, your local school board is a rubber hits the road on both legislative policy and your local policies. Right. And I think, the most visible I think, disruption to the local education policy over the past couple of years has been these fights over library content, for example, right, I think a lot of our members have seen and grew really frustrated by and those can be ended pretty quick, if you have a good professional school board who understands education. One of the problems we ran into, or at the very least, believes that public education is a public good. That's right. You know, one of the problems we're running into is that some of these folks who got elected last time around in 2019, or sorry, 2021. They were elected purely based off this, like CRT conspiracy, you know, anti library, whatever, get there and realize they're completely unprepared to actually do the job of local governance, and pass good policy running a school district. So of course, they want it, you know, of course, when those like blow ups happen on social policy, or libraries, or whatever, that kind of suits them, but it doesn't suit anybody else in the state, in their community, anything.

Matt Compton:

And we've seen and we'll continue to see a concerted effort of those enemies of public schools running for school board out and coming this November, you can rest assured that the folks who voted no on the public educator appropriation or voted no on the classified staff, yeah, appropriation, those folks are actively recruiting individuals to sit and run on on school boards. So I'll make a pitch. We're both going into this election and the next November election. I think too many of our members are unfamiliar with the Political Action Committee for Education. This is the like, what it's it's, it's the financial resource that the IEA has, in order to elect pro public education candidates, regardless of what their party affiliation is, and going into these bond elections, it would be fantastic to be able to use resources to win those races, or those issues. And then in November, it will be mission critical that we have the financial resources at our disposal, so that we can have the greatest impact on trustee elections that we can have. And so I suggest that I think pace membership is as important as IEA membership. And so you can log into idahoea.org, under the advocacy tab, and then it says PACE. And that's where you can go make a one time contribution, or you can, you know, be a sustaining monthly contributor as well.

Chris Parri:

Right. And I mean, I'm glad you brought that up, because PACE is where we can make these critical changes that have systemic impacts and the source of the resources to make those changes. It's the only place that we draw resources from to get those elected electoral and political work done. And we expend almost all of it during those state legislative races, particularly in the primary elections. And there isn't a ton of leftover for the local election side. Not that they aren't important. Of course they are. But we really need more members, more Ira members to take an active role and pace to get us to a point where we can do the good work that we're dying to do.

Matt Compton:

Our members, there is a misconception that their dues dollars go to pay for these elections. And they simply don't, we can't use US dollars for electoral activity. And so that's why there's such a reliance on PACE

Mike Journee:

And one of the ways that we're working to try to get a little bit more money into pace this year. Delegates to the Delegate Assembly are being asked to bring $55 to donate to pace in addition to whatever they're already given to pace. That's a that's a great way and I know that having attended a couple of local lobby days, I'm sorry, local delegate assemblies around the regional delegate assemblies around the state. I know that there's they're really pushing that hard and making sure that people are aware of it. Of course, any member could jump on and provide some some some extra funding for that if they if they so choose. So exactly. It's important work and it's it's it's great for public schools and our students. We need to need to do more of it and and do more at the local level like you're talking about Chris. Well, guys, I don't have anything else

Chris Parri:

I don't either. I mean, I'm so glad it's over. And I'm so glad that we have a net positive on on school for huge net loss. It's great. Right. It's historic investments that were led by, you know, pro education. Governor. I think Idaho we mentioned, you know, killing seven voucher bills. That is unique. That is my that's a good point to talk about. Talk about that a little bit. I mean, so we had seven, seven voucher bills that we were able to stop. One of them was kind of a massive Arizona style one that died on the Senate floor resoundingly two to one vote, which is surprising, right? Like, you look at Arizona, and you see here, so many folks on that side of politics saying this is the model, this is great. And then you you look right underneath that that rhetoric and you see these massive budgets that are exploding and, and property taxes going up and all of money from public schools. Yeah, exactly. I mean, they blew a shotgun hole in their, in their budget, with a really bad policy pushed by, like, you know, insane think tanks from Washington, DC. So

Mike Journee:

These are these are national groups that have made national pushes this year, and states all across the country have have adopted many of these these policies. Idaho chose a different path. So the company,

Matt Compton:

Yeah, the Betsy DeVos, the former secretary of education from a handful of years ago, she runs the Federation for American children, the American Federation for Children. And she had her lobbyists and spokes people come to Idaho and host these really fancy dinners for lawmakers to encourage them to vote in favor of one of these big Arizona style voucher bills. And they were also on the ground in so many other states across the country where they were successful. But here in Idaho, they didn't find success,

Chris Parri:

Right? I mean, you can almost imagine a rural legislator, just kind of looking at them and be like, and how does this actually benefit anyone in my district at all, you know,

Mike Journee:

And unfortunately, people go but unfortunately, other legislators aren't doing the same thing. So, so fantastic work by, you guys and alleged to the lobby team, fantastic work by our members, fantastic work by public education allies in the statehouse and in the legislature. It's been it's been a great session and, and looking forward to doing more great work for you guys. There's plenty to be done. We're still our public schools are still chronically underfunded. We've made a step and a half turn in the right direction. Hopefully Governor little can do more next year and make more recommendations that are that are going to help add to our public schools and make them stronger. But we'll see where things shake out shakeout in the summer in the next fall.

Matt Compton:

Yeah, we're leaving this legislative session with a remarkable amount of success. I'm really momentum and momentum. Yeah,

Mike Journee:

We've got to keep it going. All right, gentlemen, thank you. Sign off for the 2023 legislative session. We'll be back next year. Perfect. Thank you. Thank you for listening to Idaho education Association's hotline podcast, and this discussion about the 2023 Idaho legislature. Thanks as well to my colleagues, Chris Perry and Matt Compton, for joining me. In the coming weeks, please watch for information about other IEA podcasts on the horizon. And keep an eye on our social media channels and our website at idahoea.org. For more news about and for IEA members. I'm Mike journee. And as always, I hope you join me in thanking Idaho's public school educators for everything they do for our State students, families and public schools.