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Posted by on Feb 1, 2013 in News | 0 comments

Joint Education Committee Hearing Statement February 1, 2012

Prepared Testimony of Betty Richardson

Before the Idaho Senate and House Education Committees

February 1, 2012

Good morning.  My name is Betty Richardson, and I am an attorney. I live in West Boise and am a patron of the Meridian School District. My husband and I attended Idaho public schools, as did our children.

There are many education issues about which I feel strongly; however, I will use my time today to testify about the portion of House Bill 67 which provides that, if a board of trustees and the district’s teachers do not reach agreement on a contract by an arbitrary date in June, the trustees will have the final say on the contract terms.

When I was in law school, I learned that a contract represents a meeting of the minds of the parties. I also learned about one type of contract that is so out of balance in favor of one party that one can only conclude that it was not freely bargained, that there was no actual meeting of the minds.

That kind of contact is called a contract of adhesion.

The provision that I referenced would create an environment in which contracts of adhesion could be the order of the day in negotiations between boards of trustees and teachers.  Pursuant to this provision, trustees would be in a “head’s I win; tails you lose,” position.

Yes, the parties are supposed to negotiate in good faith, but at the end of the day – June 10th to be precise – the teachers have no choice but to accept the district’s last offer.  The law would require it.

Consider how the boards of trustees would react if the shoe were on the other foot – if teachers had the last word and the boards were forced to accept the teachers’ last offers.  The trustees would claim that the process was unfair – and they would be right.

The citizen volunteers who serve as members of our local school boards face huge challenges.  They work hard and deserve our respect.  But so do our public school teachers.

If this bill, as presently written, passes the legislature and is signed into law by the governor, the state will have put its thumb on the bargaining scale to the detriment of our teachers.

Collective bargaining helps to promote an ownership society and empower our citizens – but only if the collective bargaining table rests on a level surface.

How do we respect teachers?  We start by ensuring fairness at the bargaining table.

I encourage the members of the House Education Committee to return House Bill 67 to its sponsor and give the education task force, recently created by the gentleman on the second floor, an opportunity to address this issue.

Finally, I would emphasize that your constituents have spoken on this issue in the 2012 election.   I urge you as strongly as I possibly can to honor and abide by the outcome of that vote.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak today.