March Madness is in full swing, and we're not talking about the college basketball version. In the Idaho Legislature, March Madness is the time when bills come to the floor like popcorn out of a chute. The last weeks of a session are mind-numbing for legislators, who have little time to think about - let alone read and digest - everything that's in front of them.
This is the worst possible time to be considering the white-hot topic of education reform, or specifically, a series of bills promoted by the Idaho School Boards Association that have the flavor of Proposition 1, which was soundly defeated by voters last November.
The battle between the ISBA and the Idaho Education Association has been one of the interesting subplots of this session. The ISBA proposed a series of bills at the start of the session the IEA has been vocal in opposing. Bills have been written, rewritten and discussed thoroughly inside and outside of legislative committees.
Of eight bills on the table, only one has passed in both chambers - one that requires negotiations between school districts and the local associations to be held in public. That was one of just two bills on which the IEA and ISBA agreed. There is sharp disagreement on six others, and those differences are not going to be resolved in the Legislature's final days.
The best course for the Legislature is to follow Gov. Butch Otter's advice, which came at the start of the session. Take a deep breath and give education reform a rest for this session.
The governor appointed a task force to look at education reform in its broad scope; the Legislature is forming an interim committee to look more closely at the labor issues.
Lawmakers should let the committees do their work.
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