The hottest election issue of the season in Idaho - possible repeal of the state's controversial new school reform laws - has yielded the first statewide TV campaign commercial, and it makes some questionable claims. “Proposition 3 replaces teachers with computers by requiring that taxpayers fund laptops for high school students,” the ad says. “The Legislature failed to fully fund the laptops required by Proposition 3, so our property taxes could increase.”
Actually, one of the main things the reform laws did was write formulas into state law guaranteeing funding for the laptops into future years. The laws made the laptop program a new “statutory requirement” within Idaho's public schools budget, just like busing, border contracts or salaries and benefits.
“Ironically, the fact that those laptops are funded strengthens their first argument, that laptops are replacing teachers, or funds that otherwise could be devoted to teachers,” said political scientist David Adler, director of the Andrus Center for Public Policy at Boise State University. “In a lot of ways, it's unfortunate, because they have some pretty good arguments on their side, but they've just undercut their position by misstating the issue of legislative funding.” You can read my full story here from Sunday's Spokesman-Review.