State schools Superintendent Tom Luna is addressing a joint meeting of the House and Senate education committees this afternoon, giving an update on his controversial “Students Come First” education reforms that lawmakers enacted last year; they're the target of a referendum on the November 2012 ballot seeking to repeal them. “As year, as you know, we passed the most comprehensive education reform in the country,” Luna told the lawmakers. “We had to find a way to spend the money we currently had differently.”
The reform laws included trimming teacher collective bargaining rights; shifting funds from salaries into technology boosts and teacher merit-pay bonuses; and a new emphasis on online learning, including requiring online classes to graduate from high school in Idaho. “We had to have a new education system - a system that could educate more students at a higher level with limited resources,” Luna told the committees. He said he'll give the lawmakers an update, plus a report from his techology task force, which has been working on implementing the tech portions of the reform plan.