State-level collective bargaining reform: Idaho’s success came without the press

posted at 4:56 pm on November 8, 2011 by Tina Korbe

Allah warned us yesterday that Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s collective bargaining bill appears to be headed for defeat today — but if you’d rather not start drinking early tonight, dwell on this instead. In Idaho, with far less fanfare, state leaders have successfully implemented a series of important reforms. Robert Bluey and Brandon Stewart report:

The plan, called Students Come First, returns control to local communities. Like other states, it makes changes to collective bargaining for teachers, but goes a step further by eliminating tenure and seniority. It also include[s] a pay-for-performance option to reward teachers. Technology is a major factor in the reform with the goal of giving every student a laptop.

Just as collective bargaining reforms help to keep local and state government costs low, the elimination of tenure and seniority — at least at the elementary and secondary school levels, at which few teachers are also researchers — save school districts valuable dollars — dollars that can go toward useful equipment or toward rewarding hard-working teachers, however long they’ve worked at the school.

That — nor the lack of press — doesn’t mean Idaho’s reforms have been completely popular, though:

The reforms were spearheaded by Tom Luna, Idaho’s superintendent of public instruction. Even though he hasn’t faced the same level of national media scrutiny as his counterparts in Ohio and Wisconsin, Luna has endured his share of personal attacks — vandalism, threats and an attempt to recall him from office.

Like the referendum before Ohio voters today, some in Idaho hope to repeal the reforms next year at the ballot box. The Idaho Education Association already lost a court challenge before a district court judge.

Still, the momentum of opponents in Idaho hasn’t been such to derail the reforms, giving the new program a chance to prove itself. And so far, the program has had a positive impact, Luna says. As in Wisconsin, any success story to come out of Idaho will just reinforce Luna’s vision and swell support for the measures.

And, in the end, the bottom line is still the bottom line. Necessity is the mother of invention, they say — and state leaders have “invented” these common-sense reforms because they’ve had to cut back somewhere. In other words, cash considerations are what have driven these reforms in Ohio, Wisconsin and Idaho alike.

“If we want to do anything more — more technology, more professional development, pay for performance, all these things we’ve done with Students Come First — it takes tens of millions of more dollars on top of that,” Luna explained to Bluey in a video. “When the wheels fell off the economy a few years ago and as we’ve seen this play out into what is turning out to be a long-term recession, we’re not going to have more money for education. We have to have a system that can educate more students at a higher level with limited resources. The current system can’t do that. We weren’t going to wait for that to happen in Idaho, so we chose to act rather than be acted upon.”


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if you’d rather not start drinking early tonight, dwell on this instead.

Those of us in Texas will be happy to see Ohio’s jobs come to our great state.

Caiwyn on November 8, 2011 at 5:02 PM

And Boise St is undefeated too.

angryed on November 8, 2011 at 5:02 PM

Technology is a major factor in the reform with the goal of giving every student a laptop.

So they’re saving money by buying kids laptops?

How about teaching kids to read and write. And let their parents buy them laptops. Or is presence on Facebook now seen as a right for all kids that must be provided via the state?

angryed on November 8, 2011 at 5:06 PM

Those of us in Texas will be happy to see Ohio’s jobs come to our great state.

Caiwyn on November 8, 2011 at 5:02 PM

Uhhh… The jobs yes. Not the people.

tetriskid on November 8, 2011 at 5:13 PM

angryed on November 8, 2011 at 5:06 PM

I knew someone would take issue with that rather quickly. Some students’ parents are poor, Ed, and sometimes communities take it upon themselves to provide things like educational tools to those who could not otherwise afford them. I realize this is lunacy to you – the notion that being poor needn’t disqualify you from the given standard of education – but Idaho is entitled to its view.

ernesto on November 8, 2011 at 5:13 PM

This is why I live in Idaho. I know a lot of teachers and many welcome the reform. There are those that do not, but after this program is in dull swing, they’ll either go away or become better teachers.

csdeven on November 8, 2011 at 5:16 PM

csdeven on November 8, 2011 at 5:16 PM

Where do you live? I have family in the panhandle.

Otter 2012!

ConservativePartyNow on November 8, 2011 at 5:19 PM

Idaho?

No, you da ho.

Never gets old.

LASue on November 8, 2011 at 5:23 PM

Portables at that level are crazy IMHO. Hand a kid a laptop at a young age and he will never learn grammar or spelling. Why bother?

Can’t figure out the math problem? Type it in Excel with an = sign in front of it, bam, answer.

Need a paper? google it, copy the wiki, change a few things. Bam, paper.

At some point these kids aren’t going to know how to do anything but “google it”

WitchDoctor on November 8, 2011 at 5:31 PM

Those of us in Texas will be happy to see Ohio’s jobs come to our great state.

Caiwyn on November 8, 2011 at 5:02 PM

I was thinking the exact same things…wait till the work force starts fleeimg the state, south-bound :-), once the unions have their way in Ohio…will see then who will fill the unions’ coffers…what imbeciles…

jimver on November 8, 2011 at 5:36 PM

And Boise St is undefeated too.

angryed on November 8, 2011 at 5:02 PM

and ready to demolish TCU on Saturday!

Troy Rasmussen on November 8, 2011 at 5:49 PM

Caiwyn on November 8, 2011 at 5:02 PM

I’d think those businesses usually went to Georgia, with National Cash Register being a recent example.

sethstorm on November 8, 2011 at 6:29 PM

This is why I live in Idaho. I know a lot of teachers and many welcome the reform. There are those that do not, but after this program is in dull swing, they’ll either go away or become better teachers.

csdeven on November 8, 2011 at 5:16 PM

Whereabout if you don’t mind me asking. We are escaping Mexifornia and moving up there next year. It’s a beautiful state.

BakerAllie on November 8, 2011 at 6:45 PM

Southeast…..Idaho Falls area. There are some very nice small farming communities. Pingree, Shelley, Blackfoot, etc.

csdeven on November 8, 2011 at 7:02 PM


Collective Bargining, for most states other than the big Democratic states going broke, will disappear like the old Wankel engine that was going to solve our energy dependence. [How did that work out]

HAGGS99 on November 8, 2011 at 8:00 PM

So they’re saving money by buying kids laptops?

How about teaching kids to read and write. And let their parents buy them laptops. Or is presence on Facebook now seen as a right for all kids that must be provided via the state?

angryed on November 8, 2011 at 5:06 PM

I believe the laptops are for the (not mentioned in article) web based classes that the students will be required to take. Which WILL save money. Now if the school is requiring an on line class to graduate, do you think the parents or the school should supply the computer?

Koa on November 8, 2011 at 8:30 PM

And Boise St is undefeated too.
angryed on November 8, 2011 at 5:02 PM

and ready to demolish TCU on Saturday!
Troy Rasmussen on November 8, 2011 at 5:49 PM

HEY BOISE, meet LSU, Ok State, Stanford, Houston . . . . . . . . .

listens2glenn on November 8, 2011 at 9:13 PM

In other words, cash considerations are what have driven these reforms in Ohio, Wisconsin and Idaho alike.

It’s union busting in order to remove political and monetary support for the Dems, and to indirectly force the labor market in the private sector to accept lower pay and benefits.

Nothing wrong with removing $ from the Donks, but call it what it is. The Trumkas and Hoffas out there have brought this down on the rank and file with their corruption and political ties.

Dr. ZhivBlago on November 8, 2011 at 9:25 PM

that loss was a disappointment but what do you expect from a welfare state.. they’re trying very very hard to become Michigan.. (detroit to be exact).. let ‘em have the state. it’s lost and there just aren’t enough workers here. the majority are takers.

hogtrashhd on November 8, 2011 at 10:01 PM

forgot to say.. Texas is looking really really good.. yehaw..giddy up little doggie..

hogtrashhd on November 8, 2011 at 10:03 PM

Whereabout if you don’t mind me asking. We are escaping Mexifornia and moving up there next year. It’s a beautiful state.

BakerAllie on November 8, 2011 at 6:45 PM

Idaho is not for you. We have wolves , bear, and mosquitoes the size of geese. Most of our children were eaten right down to their little snowshoes while trying to get to school.
It is not because you are all gay or bi. Our governor is Butch. Nobody who moves here from Califa has ever found happiness. Try Utah. Pretend you want to learn more about the Mormon Church and you will have all kinds of help unloading your furnishings.

borntoraisehogs on November 8, 2011 at 10:54 PM

borntoraisehogs on November 8, 2011 at 10:54 PM

Um, ok? For what it’s worth I’m not originally from CA and have pretty much hated it here ever since I’ve been here. Not sure what the gay comment has to do with anything. Don’t assume because I live in Cal that I’m a “Californian”. Californians are the reason we are moving.

BakerAllie on November 8, 2011 at 11:44 PM

So they’re saving money by buying kids laptops?

How about teaching kids to read and write. And let their parents buy them laptops. Or is presence on Facebook now seen as a right for all kids that must be provided via the state?

angryed on November 8, 2011 at 5:06 PM

++++

technology is a nice frill for an education system, but too much and people start thinking they can’t teach or learn without it. Laptops for kids are ridiculous and have nothing to do with education. If they did, how come high school grads 50 years ago knew more than grads these days? Not to mention 100 years ago when they had slate boards and chalk.

YehuditTX on November 8, 2011 at 11:51 PM

BakerAllie on November 8, 2011 at 11:44 PM

I think the point was that they have enough Californians moving there. A little hyperbole to convince you not to come.

I think it was made as a joke.

schmuck281 on November 9, 2011 at 12:49 AM

Um, ok? For what it’s worth I’m not originally from CA and have pretty much hated it here ever since I’ve been here. Not sure what the gay comment has to do with anything. Don’t assume because I live in Cal that I’m a “Californian”. Californians are the reason we are moving.

BakerAllie on November 8, 2011 at 11:44 PM

He’s saying he doesn’t want you here. lol Idaho has barely 1 1/2 million people and we love it.

csdeven on November 9, 2011 at 12:54 AM

Nobody who moves here from Califa has ever found happiness. Try Utah.

Or if you do come to Idaho, please stay confined to Blaine county, and don’t let your politics stray from there.

elowe on November 9, 2011 at 7:15 AM

So they’re saving money by buying kids laptops?

How about teaching kids to read and write. And let their parents buy them laptops. Or is presence on Facebook now seen as a right for all kids that must be provided via the state?

angryed on November 8, 2011 at 5:06 PM

IMHO, the laptops are more of a commentary on how much money is wasted when nobody challenges the education status quo.

For what we spend per pupil in my state (KS) we should be able to buy each kid a laptop and an IPhone plus at least $5000 worth of private tutoring, and still have plenty of money to pay the teachers and keep the school open and well-maintained. And yet, even in our “superior” districts, we have 30% of the students who can’t meet reading and writing standards: a dismal and unacceptable result. And all the education lobby can talk about doing is shoveling more money into the existing system….with no accounting whatsoever for the last boatload of money we dumped into it.

I’m jealous of Idaho.

landlines on November 9, 2011 at 4:29 PM