In all my seven years in the Idaho legislature, this is the most damage we have ever done. I say "we" because I'm an elected part of the body, like an errant leg or toe. I picture myself reaching for the ground in hopes that the whole thing will come crashing down to face the reality of what we have done, what we have taken from every community, every family with children, every school from Sandpoint to Bear Lake.
And the sadness I feel. How I want to ask everyone to thank their teachers, send a bag of groceries, paper, pens, supplies, gift cards, flowers. Just because I feel the damage about to settle down on them. The bills are cruel. They make a proud and difficult profession into an uncertain one, a nearly impossible one.
And during debate Thursday night Senators sat on the floor in the big chairs taking calls from the Governor. Otter's administration may not be skilled at all things, but strong arming it has mastered. I think it's clear with the vote. And in my mind I remember Dean Cameron pleading with our colleagues to remember who they represent. I know why he said that now.
The debate there in favor of the bills in was surreal. Listening I often felt like the proponents of the bill were reading different legislation or that they live in different world where young people need to spend more, not less time on technology; where the challenges of the twenty first century are actually using a lap top and internet chat to discuss topics rather than learning face to face negotiating skills, mastering fluid persuasive written communication, becoming skilled in debate, collaboration, creative problem solving, invention and leadership.
In the end, like so much of what comes down hard from above, this must be about money. Like raising taxes for roads, eliminating the personal property tax on business equipment or deregulating land line phone service -- there are tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars to be made by someone.
That is what we get when the state is beset by elusive PACs running millions in campaign ads with no requirement to report their donors. Who will ever know exactly where the money really flowed.
All I know is that this policy won't improve education. Reading the hundred or so pages of legislation, I can't see where it ever will.