House bill 174 was massively rejected by Senators in Idaho. The Senate had voted against the popular House-passed bill yesterday. The bill, which will grant power to the school boards to overlook and shun any form of negotiations that might emanate from the local teachers union’s stables, was overturned and killed by senators on Wednesday. What mainly had changed these lawmakers’ minds and swayed the votes was the testimonies given by local teachers and representatives of the unions of St. Maries to Rupert just before the votes were cast. These testimonies were all in opposition to the “Shall to may” bill.
John Thomas, Wood River Hugh School’s teacher in Hailey, during the testimonies, said that the bill will be harmful to the state of the teachers union and deprive the local teachers of their right to vote. House Bill 174 gives the school board trustees the right to enter into a negotiation with a local education union freely. This is a simple but bold step in the state education laws.
In the words of Representative Moon, the sponsor, The House Bill 174, which is popularly known as the “Shall to may” bill, would have been a turning point in history. It would have made a minor but significant change in Idaho education laws. The present status quo has created an enabling environment for students and equips them with a “collateral damage” option if the union infringes on rights. However, Representative Moon and the R-Stanley believe these unions are also entitled to negotiation even after acting up.
The climax of yesterday’s heated debate was the West Ada Education Association’s October “Sickout,” which directly opposed the school reopening plans of the district. As Anna Miller rightly puts it, the “Sickout” move led to the closure of Idaho’s biggest school district, which in turn form an “Illegal Strike” throughout the district. Anna Miller’s Idaho Freedom Foundation has been part of the “Sickout” most vigorous opposition with a lawsuit filed to challenge its legitimacy and legality. However, both parties have reached an agreement and dismissed the case since November last year.
While Representative Moon and Miller drew strength from the “sickout” to justify their bill, Paul Stark, Idaho’s Education Association Attorney, sees otherwise as he labeled their argument with “Red Herring.” He said it was unconnected and jot relatable to the bill.
House bill 174 and teacher’s morale
Those opposing the bill also made points to back their view. They mentioned the effect of the bill on teacher’s morale. Peggy Hoy believes House Bill 174 was not different from the polarization education laws sponsored by the previous state superintendent Tom Luna. It also included immense restrictions on negotiation and was rejected. In her words, House Bill 174 is a “Dangerous Piece” of legislation.
Sen. Dave Lent also lent his voice by tagging the Home Bill 174 as a “Last Straw.” He believes Idaho’s educational sector has been politicized, and people are trying to play politics and score points, courtesy of the educational mess created by the Covid-19 pandemic.