BOISE -- The Students Come First education reform laws created a firestorm when they were introduced in the 2011 legislative session, but they were defeated in the general election last month.
Education reform will be back on the agenda for the legislature in January, but analysts say, lawmakers will work to avoid a similar firestorm.
"The passage of this major reform, this sweeping reform was uncharacteristic of the Idaho political culture and the Idaho legislature, in that all these measures were introduced and passed in one session," said KTVB political analyst Dr. Jim Weatherby.
The Students Come First laws sought to limit teachers' collective bargaining, and introduce merit pay and laptops in the classroom. Before passing, they ignited spirited debate. In the November elections of this year, they were soundly defeated.
"This was an overwhelming vote, a rejection of all three," said Weatherby. "And with respect to the technology piece, defeated in every county in the state."
But, lawmakers say they will tackle education reform again this coming legislative session. Some of the overall ideas in the Students Come First laws, like merit pay and more technology in the classroom, have bipartisan support. But, analysts like Weatherby say legislators won't try to re-implement the entire laws.
"I think they'll tread a little more lightly," said Weatherby.
'Treading more lightly' means we'll likely see more teachers and other stakeholders involved in the creation of the new reforms, which will address a major complaint of the 2011 laws. The new reforms will also likely have a smaller scope, and be passed in pieces over a few years.
"Idahoans are slow to adapt to change, as well as their legislature," said Weatherby. "It may take a couple of sessions to really sort out what will ultimately become law with respect to education reform."
The 2013 legislative session begins January 7th. But, new legislator orientation starts Monday at the Capitol. On Wednesday, Democrats and Republicans will hold closed-door meetings where they will decide their leadership for the 2013 session.