Updated: Aug 9, 2022
*Screenshots in this post contain explicit language*
*This blog post is being updated, please check back for revisions*
If you see the BEA (Boise Education Association = teachers’ union) endorsed candidates for the Boise School Board Election on September 6 and are tempted to vote for those candidates without doing your own research, we would encourage you to look at all of the candidates before making your final decision. Each school district has their own local union (Boise Education Association, West Ada Education Association, Nampa Education Association, etc.) that is under the Idaho Education Association (IEA), that is under the National Education Association (NEA).
The BEA endorsed candidates are all incumbent trustees who, with the exception of the incumbent in Race 4, placed more weight on the guidance of the hospital administrators, CDH/CDC and the teacher's union and not enough weight on the negative consequences of that guidance compared to every other public school district in the state, thus leading to negative outcomes for our students.
When the rest of the state was back at school, Boise kids were still doing online learning even though there was credible evidence at the time that students and schools were not chief vectors of transmission and that online school was not effective for many students. When the rest of the state was mask optional and had returned to normal activities, Boise kept the mask mandate in place to the point of not allowing medical exemptions and limiting activities. The year of 2020 was very difficult on everyone, young people in particular and many students suffered mentally and emotionally, mental health hospital admissions skyrocketed and counselor/therapist wait lists lengthened. While some demographics fared well in 2020/2021, early literacy rates of economically disadvantaged students declined at nearly double the rate of the state-average and West Ada likely due to those students not having the at-home support that middle and upper-income students had. COVID numbers as a percent of student/staff population were similar to nearby districts with more lax (or no) COVID protocol so it's difficult to justify the negative trade-offs.
Have you ever thought about how much money the teacher’s union has just from membership dues, not including donations? While we don’t know the answer to that question, we do know that the BEA collects over $90,000 per month in union dues from its members, and this does not include the money from teachers who paid up-front for a lifetime membership or those who do not have their union dues automatically withheld from their paycheck. For the screenshot below, please see Page 9 of the Monthly Bills Report from the July 11, 2022 board meeting. Teachers, staff and principals who are reading this…. Think about how much you pay in union dues every month and every year compared to other similar expenses you have. Are the services and representation you’re receiving from the union equivalent to the money you’re paying them? Are the services and representation that teachers, staff and principals, as a whole, receive from the union equivalent to the $90k+/mo (over $1M/year) dues they collect?
In November 2021, BEA paid its members $20/hr plus food and drink to phone bank AGAINST pro-parent candidates in West Ada, Nampa, and perhaps elsewhere in the state while simultaneously promoting candidates who have no business holding any type of public office, much less one that represents students (second image below). According to e-mail communication with BEA President Stephanie Myers, the funds used to pay phone bankers in 2021 were provided by voluntary donations made to the Idaho Education Association and the National Education Association. Since the phone banking targeted only union members, it is not subject to Sunshine Law reporting requirements through the Secretary of State. As such, expenses do not appear during that timeframe on the PACE (Political Action Committee for the IEA) campaign report.
Here’s one of the Nampa Education Association ENDORSED candidates who the BEA phone bankers were promoting to union members in Nampa and for whom PACE (Political Action Committee for Education, the IEA PAC) used donations (not union dues) to mail out a flyer.
And they have pledged to support the current BEA endorsed candidates in a similar fashion.
Nancy Gregory, trustee since 2002, and Maria Greeley, trustee since 2012 (neither of whom are running in 2022), along with the two incumbents for the 6-year slots, appointed the people in the four and two year races so they all have a very comfortable working relationship. Not only did BEA share their own endorsements on their Facebook page, but they also shared a joint endorsement on their public Facebook page written by the two aforementioned trustees not on the ballot. They claim that any major changes on the board could be very disruptive. Change is always hard and there’s a bit of a learning curve with a new trustee, as we’ve seen over the past two years with the three new appointed trustees, but is the disruption because of an “outsider” really going to be so terrible? Based on communication with some challengers on the ballot, Trustees Greeley and Gregory did not reach out to the challenging candidates before making their endorsement. Here are a few of the main objectives of the candidates we like best: focus on existing school values (values the District/individual schools already have) and leave all ideology at home, include parents and staff early and throughout the decision-making process, parents are the primary authority over their own children and staff over themselves, school safety, District communication and transparency. Do these potential changes really sound so disruptive?
If you look Boise Education Association (or BEA) up in the PAC/Candidate campaign finance portal on the Secretary of State website, you will not find them. While we now understand that any political action is funded by donations and political action limited to their members is not subject to Sunshine Laws, we are still unsure how the flyer below could be paid for by IEA, but still not be visible in the campaign finance portal through the Secretary of State. We'll keep looking and update this if we find the answer.
Rather than just voting for who BEA recommends, please do your own research, think about how the incumbent trustees have represented their constituents vs. what the challengers have to offer, think about the resources the BEA has to promote its chosen candidates that the other candidates don't have, think about some of the changes within the District over the past few years, think about the direction you think the District is headed and if you're happy with that, and choose those candidates who you think will do the best job prioritizing students, staff and representing parents and the community.