Monday, November 05, 2012

This Year's Popcorn-Worthy Races, North Idaho Edition

We've most avoided politics on the blog this election, partly because we're busy dealing with other things and partly because we already have enough stress.

However, tomorrow we will be firing up the popcorn popper and spending most of the afternoon and evening with the TV on because this will be an interesting election all around.

Obviously there's the national elections which are popcorn-worthy all by themselves. Idaho should be interesting due to ballot measures so we'll be watching those closely. Thanks to the joys of network television we've been watching the Washington State political ads and there's a ton of popcorn-worthy stuff on WA's ballots. We also have a few local races in our county that should end up very fun, even if they never make the tv news.

Just a note, I'm just listing what I consider interesting to watch, not everything that's on the ballot.

So starting at the local level...
Bonner County, Idaho sheriff's race: R incumbent Darryl Wheeler v. Constitution party challenger Rocky Jordan
In our minds it's "the really conservative guy v. the even more conservative guy". Having grown up in Maricopa County, the fact that I actually have to make an effort to remember Wheeler's name is all the endorsement I need (after spending my life with Sheriff Joe taking every news cycle). Either way, we'll end up with a good sheriff.
Idaho Constitutional Amendment HJR 2aa“Shall Article I, of the Constitution of the State of Idaho be amended by the addition of a New Section 23, to provide that the rights to hunt, fi sh and trap, including by the use of traditional methods, are a valued part of the heritage of the State of Idaho and shall forever be preserved for the people and managed through the laws, rules and proclamations that preserve the future of hunting, fi shing and trapping; to provide that public hunting, fi shing and trapping of wildlife shall be a preferred means of managing wildlife; and to provide that the rights set forth do not create a right to trespass on private property, shall not affect rights to divert, appropriate and use water, or establish any minimum amount of water in any water body, shall not lead to a diminution of other private rights, and shall not prevent the suspension or revocation, pursuant to statute enacted by the Legislature, of an individual’s hunting, fi shing or trapping license?”
The amendment would take the "right to hunt" out of the state statutes and put it in the state constitution instead, therefore limiting the ability of the legislators to fuck with it and the ability of anti-hunting groups to sue individuals. I'm going to guess this will pass but the handwringing will be epic.

(Note: all 3 propositions on the ballot are tied together, as they each deal with a specific part of the educational reforms passed last year. The controversy over all of them has been huge and the mud-flinging quite intense. A YES vote means keeping the legislation, a NO vote means casting out the legislation.) 
Idaho Proposition 1: 
Referendum to approve or reject S1108; relating to education: revising Idaho Code
by amending 33-513, 33-514, 33-514A, 33-515, 33-515A, 33-516, 33-521, 33-522,
33-1003, 33-1004H, 33-1271, 33-1272, 33-1273, 33-1274, 33-1275, 33-1276 and
33-402; repealing 33-1004G; and, by adding new sections 33-515B, 33-523, 33-524,
33-1271A, 33-1273A and 33-1274A to revise the annual written evaluation process for
professional staff; phase out renewable individual contracts; provide that professional
staff employed after January 31, 2011 shall not be entitled to a formal review of decisions
for not being reemployed; allow school boards to change the length of terms stated in
current contracts and reduce the salaries of certifi cated staff with renewable contracts
without due process proceedings; require school districts to disclose to employees a
list of professional liability insurance providers; eliminate education support program for
school districts experiencing enrollment decreases greater than one percent; eliminate
teacher early retirement incentives; restrict the scope of negotiated agreements between
school boards and professional staff to compensation and the duration of negotiated
agreements to one year; and eliminate provisions for fact fi nding in professional

This is quite obviously the VERY condensed version. It essentially eliminates tenure for new teachers, puts all teachers on limited-time and limited-term contracts, and bases contract renewal and layoff decisions on a teacher's performance:

"For all evaluations conducted after June 30, 2012, at least fi fty percent (50%) of the evaluation shall be based on objective measure(s) of growth in student achievement, as determined by the board of trustees. In addition, input from the parents and guardians of students shall be considered as a factor in the evaluation of principals and any other school-based 
administrative employees’ evaluation." 

Importantly, all such decisions would be made by the local school board, not the state.

Also, what's not mentioned in the summary is that it also restricts the ability of unions to bargain for changes to contracts AND requires unions to prove that the majority of teachers in the district in question are represented by the union.
Idaho Proposition 2: 

Referendum to approve or reject S1110; relating to education: revising Idaho Code by adding new section 33-1004I to provide and distribute in fi scal year 2013 state share-based pay for performance bonuses to certifi cated instructional staff based on a school’s median student growth percentiles on state achievement tests and a school’s median standardized score on state achievement tests and local share-based pay for performance based on student test scores, graduation rates, dropout rates, percent of graduates attending postsecondary education or entering military service, meeting federal “adequate yearly progress”, number of students successfully completing dual credit or advanced placement classes; percent of students in extracurricular activities, class projects, portfolios, successful completion of special student assignments, parental involvement, teacher-assigned grades, and/or student attendance rates, and, in fi scal year 2014 and thereafter, in addition to the aforementioned bonuses, provide incentives for certifi cated instructional staff in hard-to-fi ll positions and leadership awards for certifi cated instructional staff who assume one or more of the following additional duties: instructional staff mentoring, content leadership, lead teacher, peer coaching, content specialist, remedial instructor, curriculum development, assessment development, data analysis, grant writing, special program coordinator, research project, professional development instructor, service on education committees, educational leadership and earning national board certifi cation.
Also VERY condensed. In a nutshell, merit pay based on student academic growth, the performance of the school, AND taking on extra duties.

Idaho Proposition 3: 
Referendum to approve or reject S1184; relating to education: revising Idaho Code by amending 33-125, to provide for a fi scal report card; repealing 33-129 relating to science education matching grants; amending 33-357 relating to a certain internet website; amending 33-1002 relating to the educational support program; adding new section 33-1002A relating to fractional average daily attendance; amending 33-1004 relating to staff allowances; amending 33-1004A relating to the experience and education multiplier; amending 33-1004E relating to district’s salary-based apportionment; amending 33-1004F relating to obligations to the public employee retirement system and social security; amending 33-1020 relating to moneys distributed to the Idaho Digital Learning Academy; adding new section 33-1021 relating to distribution of moneys to school districts for certain math and science courses; adding new section 33-1022 relating to public school technology and expenditures or distributions of moneys for such; adding new section 33-1626 relating to dual credit; adding new section 33-1627 relating to online courses and mobile computing devices and providing certain expenditures or distributions of moneys; adding new section 33-5216 relating to public postsecondary institutions being authorized to operate public charter high schools.
If you listened to the teacher's unions you'd think of this as the "replacing teachers with laptops" legislation, when it's really not. This proposition includes a lot but what I find most interesting is the requirement for graduating high school students to take at least 2 courses online (at the school even), make sure students have access to digital learning via laptops, and provides for virtual charter high schools.

All 3 propositions will live or die together and the fallout should be interesting.

Washington State

As I mentioned above, we get to see WA political ads. The most interesting races this year will be:
Washington State Governor: Jay Inslee democrat v. Rob McKenna republican. 
The ads have been so vicious this round that we'll be glad to see this race decided. 2 very different men, it will be interesting to see who WA votes in.
Initiative Measure No. 1185 concerns tax and fee increases imposed by state government. This measure would restate existing statutory requirements that legislative actions raising taxes must be approved by two-thirds legislative majorities or receive voter approval, and that new or increased fees require majority legislative approval.
We'll see if WA is finally tired of continual tax hikes coming out of Olympia.
Initiative Measure No. 1240 concerns creation of a public charter school system. This measure would authorize up to forty publicly-funded charter schools open to all students, operated through approved, nonreligious, nonprofit organizations, with government oversight; and modify certain laws applicable to them as public schools.
Cue the handwringing by the teacher's unions.
The legislature passed Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 6239 concerning marriage for same-sex couples, modified domestic partnership law, and religious freedom, and voters have filed a sufficient referendum petition on this bill. This bill would allow same-sex couples to marry, preserve domestic partnerships only for seniors, and preserve the right of clergy or religious organizations to refuse to perform, recognize, or accommodate any marriage ceremony.Should this bill be: accepted or rejected
If other states are any indication, this should be interesting both before AND after the election.
Initiative Measure No. 502 concerns marijuana. This measure would license and regulate marijuana production, distribution, and possession for persons over twenty-one; remove state-law criminal and civil penalties for activities that it authorizes; tax marijuana sales; and earmark marijuana-related revenues.
The entire country will be watching this one. If it passes, expect a line of challenges all the way up to and including the Supreme Court. This is the most popcorn-worthy out of all the WA state initiatives.

And, of course, national...
President of the United States: incumbent Democrat Barack Obama v. Republican Mitt Romney v. a whole bunch of other people who probably won't matter.
The legal challenges might last a decade. I'm guessing most politically minded people will be up late on Tuesday watching this pan out.

Should be a very interesting election all around.