A battle neither side chose wisely: Republican-led Legislature, teachers’ unions should have both gone in better direction

The Republican-led Legislature did not choose its battle wisely this time.
Today marks the 43rd day of the ongoing 60-day regular legislative session. Of the 1,789 bills introduced since this session began, action on only 19 of them is completed.
In the interim, countless hours of debate, scores of amendments, two public hearings, almost unprecedented action in the Senate and the potential to heal rifts between lawmakers and teachers were squandered on SB 451.
On Tuesday, the House of Delegates effectively killed the controversial omnibus education reform bill on a 53-45 vote in this session.
Our position throughout this controversy is that legislators were wasting valuable time on legislation that was not even on anyone’s radar.
Yet, out of the blue, Senate Republicans pushed through SB 451, which initially appeared to be retaliation for last year’s teachers’ walkout.
What everyone was discussing — road conditions, PEIA, free tuition to community colleges and technical schools, medical cannabis and rural broadband access — consistently took a backseat to SB 451.
Not to mention legislation introduced by the governor — “Jim’s Dream” — for rehab/job training for substance abuse addicts, which never gained any traction.
As for most of those nearly 1,800 other bills introduced this year in the Legislature, they are now probably consigned to oblivion.
We must note here, too, that though this House vote represents the second major victory for the teacher unions in as many years, they appear to have jumped the gun with their statewide walkout Tuesday.
Some will say this walkout and hundreds of teachers rallying at the Capitol ensured any lawmakers on the bubble would vote to table SB 451, or reject it.
That’s possible, but we believe teachers would have served their cause better by letting the legislative process play out before taking extraordinary actions.
Most believe the governor would have vetoed this bill if it even reached his desk. And a two-thirds vote in the House or Senate to override any veto was also highly unlikely.
Success is not measured by how many times you stand up and take a stand and fight. It’s not gauged either by how many times you win such fights.
Indeed, many consider success to be how many times you seek another thoughtful — smarter — path and forego most arguments and battles.
The point is, though you may simply win by just flexing your muscle you should display your power wisely.
Such clout is often short-lived and your supporters will grow jaded by constant warring with others.
Yes, fight the important ones, and SB 451 was one, but let the process play out — then fight as necessary.

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