Senator Goedde Bullies the Education Debate

Betsy Russell/SR photo

Last week the Idaho legislature scheduled three days of hearings to get feedback from the public about Superintendent Tom Luna's surprising proposal to completely overhaul Idaho's education system. Senator John Goedde is a Republican from Coeur d'Alene and chairman of the senate education committee before which the hearings were held. Goedde stacked the deck. He manipulated the process from the beginning of the debate. Despite the fact that overhaul opponents overwhelmed the proponents at the hearing, Chairman Goedde granted equal time to each group, as if there were an equal number of contentions. And when one speaker, who identified himself as a proponent, failed to speak in favor, Goedde blew a gasket.

Goedde further exercised the "chairman's prerogative" and summoned a lobbyist from Intel to share her expertise. Intel would, of course, be very interested in Luna's proposal to buy a laptop for every high school student. And then, when participants began to complain about the chair's bias, Goedde damn near busts a gavel. Goedde should have recused himself from the chair since he's a co-sponsor of the legislation. Goedde's apparent bias and desire for control have tainted this process. The fact that neither Goedde or Luna contacted stakeholders in the legislation for input ahead of time exacerbated this problem and unnecessarily raised tensions.