Prop 1, 2, 3 Opponents Worry Idaho Legislature Will Revive Repealed Education Laws

Dec 13, 2012

Mike Lanza at rally earlier this year
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

The leaders of the campaign that defeated Idaho’s Propositions 1, 2 and 3 in last month’s election are concerned that the laws could come back. They’re speaking out against efforts to resurrect the education overhaul rejected by voters.

Mike Lanza says he and Maria Greeley have been invited to dozens of meetings with educators, business leaders and others to talk about education reform since last month’s election. Lanza and Greely founded the group Idaho Parents and Teachers Together and managed the Vote No On Propositions 1, 2 and 3 campaigns. He says those meetings have been informal and done on the quiet but they’ve given him hope.

“People are really energized by this election outcome. They see it as a mandate to work on improving Idaho schools,” he says. “And we believe there’s a lot of forward momentum moving in that direction.”

But Lanza has concerns. Those can be summed up with his admonition to Idaho lawmakers. “Give this process a chance to play itself out.”

The process he’s talking about comes from a speech made last week by Governor Butch Otter. The governor called for the creation of an education reform committee. He suggested a diverse group of 33 people to research and make recommendations that would have broad support. Lanza says that’s the best way to go.

“We need to do a lot of hard work which will probably take months,” he says. “Have public meetings around the state, ask educators and parents and community leaders what are our schools’ problems, which is a question that has not been asked yet. And then come up with the solutions to address them.”

Meanwhile he fears when lawmakers meet next month they will try to bring back the laws voters rejected. His fears are not unfounded. In the same speech Governor Otter called for a reform committee he predicted lawmakers would do just that.

“I believe we’re going to have in this legislative session a revisit of Props 1, 2 and 3 or parts and pieces thereof,” Otter said.    

Senate education chair, Republican John Goedde has a similar take.

“There are parts of those bills that I believe can be resurrected and passed this year and I think those parts can be done with consensus from at least most parties,” Goedde says.

He adds he is not against a reform committee.

“My concern is that large committees don’t function very quickly, and I don’t know that they’re going to have results or recommendations this legislative session.”

Mike Lanza agrees a committee would not have recommendations by next month, but he thinks that’s OK. He says the 2013 legislature should focus solely on funding schools and leave a new education overhaul for 2014.

Copyright 2012 Boise State Public Radio