Posts tagged: education reform
Robbing Peter to pay Paul has a price. Strapped school districts are aiming to skirt Idaho’s new school laws, which shift $137 million from salaries and other expenses to technology. The money is diverted over six years, amounting to about 2 percent of state support to Idaho’s 115 school districts. The tension bubbled Monday and Tuesday during the second meeting of the 39-member Students Come First Technology Task Force appointed by Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna. The task force is to make implementation recommendations to the 2012 Legislature. The flashpoint is the mandate for online classes, with district leaders moving to protect their funds from online providers. Jared Jenks of the Sugar-Salem School District in Madison County told the task force subcommittee on online learning implementation that he’s eyeing ways to circumvent the law. “This isn’t official, but it’s a possibility”/Dan Popkey, Statesman. More here.
Question: Do you still think education “reform” proposed by Superintendent Tom Luna and pushed through by Gov. Butch Otter and GOP legislators is a swell idea?
Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna's Students Come First Technology Task Force holds its second round of meetings Monday and Tuesday. The task force is charged with advising the Legislature on the implementation of Senate Bill 1184, which passed earlier this year. The new law mandates online courses for high school graduation and shifts money from teacher salaries to technology. The law is subject to voter approval in November 2012. The agenda includes talks from representatives of the Maine Department of Education, Denver Public Schools and Discovery Learning, an arm of the Discovery Communications LLC, the owner of the Discovery Channel/Dan Popkey, Idaho Statesman. More here.
Question: Am I the only one concerned that Superintendent Tom Luna's grand experiment with Idaho education leans too heavily on out-of-state interests?
There was never a real chance that supporters of a recall of Idaho’s Superintendent of Public Instruction would be able to collect the nearly 160,000 valid signatures needed to force a recall of the controversial superintendent. Now that the recall effort is officially dead, the question becomes whether opponents of Tom Luna’s education reform ideas can keep the public concern – even anger – at a level sufficient to make a 2012 referendum, already qualified for the ballot, successful? I’d argue the failure of the recall is a significant strategic setback for those who think Idaho’s education policy is headed in the wrong direction. The decision to mount the recall was, with perfect hindsight, a miscalculation that will now be portrayed as a sign of weakness/Marc Johnson, The Johnson Report. More here.
Question: Do you agree with Marc Johnson that the Recall Luna effort was a miscalculation that will hurt attempts to turn back Superintendent Tom Luna's so-called education reforms?
Chairman Norm Semanko, of Idaho Republican Party, issued a statement re: failure of Recall Luna drive, which reads in part: “This is a huge blow to the anti-education reform establishment. The Union leadership’s efforts to use scare tactics and spread misinformation in order to maintain the status quo and to place Union interests ahead of the true recipients of public education, the students, have failed in Idaho. This confirms that the will of the people was made known in the 2010 elections, a year that proved most successful for the candidates of the Idaho Republican Party.” (H/T: Idaho Conservative Blogger, more here)
Question: Is the Idaho Education Association a legitimate target for Semanko's comment since it didn't take part in the Recall Luna effort?
More Info: House Minority Leader John Rusche told Rep. Sue Chew on Monday that an email sent from her legislative account to nearly 800 addressees was inappropriate. The May 12 email suggested high school government classes focus on referendums seeking to overturn three education reform laws authored by GOP Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna. “Allowing students to register to vote and keeping them informed of upcoming events, such as the referendum, is a way for the teachers to instill the rhetoric from class within their students’ lives,” said the email.
Question: Did Rep. Sue Chew act properly in using her legislative email to lobby against education “reform” laws pushed by Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna?
Idaho Gov. Otter vowed today to personally campaign against the voter referendum to overturn this year's school reform legislation, even as the tally of Idahoans signing petitions to place the measures on the ballot hit the 65,000 mark - nearly 20,000 more than the number required. “That's the people's right - that's what being part of a republic is all about,” Otter said. “We're going to do our level best to make sure that the correct information gets out.” Otter said, “I fully intend to be as involved as I possibly can be,” and added, “I hope they fail”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.
Question: Are you surprised that Gov. Otter is going to actively oppose referenda to overthrown the Luna laws?
On Wednesday, the critics of the Students Come First education overhaul got what they wanted. And the plan’s stealth architect, State Superintendent Tom Luna, got what he deserved. Opponents said they have collected the 47,432 voter signatures necessary to put the three laws on the November 2012 ballot. The apparent success of the referendum drive — nearly two weeks before the deadline — illustrates that the Students Come First furor didn’t subside when the Legislature left town in April. Both the content and the process remain controversial/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman. More here.
Question: On Thursday, GOP Chairman Norm Semanko issued a press release that basically said he wasn't surprised that opponents of Superintendent Tom Luna's reforms were able to collect enough signatures to get three referendums on the 2012 ballot. Do you believe the Idaho GOP is unconcerned about the referendums?
Luna's latest weapon in this cause, Idaho's Code of Ethics applicable to educators, was deployed on Friday by virtue of another memo to state administrators. Again, relying on unsubstantiated hearsay, like Luna did when attacking the IEA for an act of vandalism, Luna accused a very expansive list of educators of wrongful political conduct by utilizing state education resources. Luna's recitation of the law to administrators is puzzlingly broad, prohibiting political conduct on “school grounds” when the code of ethics fails to mention the term anywhere. Indeed, Luna's memo is in the terms of an imperative black or white directive, when indeed the law is quite ambiguous and as yet untested against the weight of the Idaho and U.S. Constitutions./Sisyphus, 43rd State Blues. More here.
Question: Are you standing by your man, Tom Luna? Or have you signed a petition to recall him or to put his reform proposals on the 2012 ballot?
Teachers are being warned they could lose their certification if they participate in efforts to recall Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna, repeal his new education reforms or engage in other political activities on school grounds. In a memo Friday, Luna said his office had received numerous inquiries and reports of teachers using their school email to coordinate political activities: proselytizing to students in the classroom and using pupils as couriers for political materials/Associated Press. More here.
Question: Is Luna's attempt to intimidate teachers a sign that the recall and referendum efforts are getting under his skin?
Idahoans for Responsible Education Reform, the group backing referendum measures on all three major school reform bills that passed this year, has announced it's nearly halfway to its goal of collecting 60,000 signatures on each of the three petitions. The required number is just under 48,000, but Mike Lanza, group chairman, said the 60,000 goal will allow a “cushion” to account for any signatures that can't be verified. “We are just shy of 30,000 of each of the three petitions,” Lanza said. Click below for the group's full news release/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.
Question: What will be the impact politically in Idaho, if the referendum makes the ballot but organizers don't gather enough signatures to try to recall Superintendent Tom Luna?
State schools Supt. Tom Luna now says it was a “misquote” when the New York Times quoted him this week saying that he'll ask the state Board of Education to require four online classes for graduation, though he then repeated that. “I was very comfortable with four,” he said. “That will be the starting number. This decision is going to be made after a lot of research and a lot of discussion through the work of the state board. I am confident that we will have some number. And we have many states that are beginning to adopt graduation requirements when it comes to online credits. … I think four is a reasonable number”/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.
“I have no doubt we’ll get a robust rule through them,” (Luna told the New York Times). Four online courses is “going to be the starting number.” Full New York Times story here.
Question: I can't figure out why Luna would bother to claim he was misquoted — especially when the Times reporter told Betsy Russell that Luna said exactly what was printed — when Luna then repeats the same thing. Can anyone help me decipher this?
Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, left, smiles as state schools superintendent Tom Luna answers questions for the media during a news conference where the governor signed the third piece of the “Students Come First” legislation Friday in Boise. You can read Betsy Russell's Eye On Boise story here. And see her story re: the referendum against Luna's education reform below. (AP Photo/Idaho Press-Tribune photo: Charlie Litchfield)
Question: Do you plan to sign petitions for a referendum to vote on Superintendent Tom Luna's education “reform”?
With Gov. Butch Otter set to sign Senate Bill 1184 into law this morning, parents, educators, and community leaders will file a preliminary petition with the Secretary of State’s office today to overturn the law via Idaho’s referendum process. Organizers will gather in the Idaho Capitol rotunda at 11:30 and deliver the petition to the Secretary of State’s office before noon. “We have to take this step of pursuing a referendum on these bills because thousands of emails, thousands of people attending rallies across Idaho, and the testimony of parents, school board members, school administrators, and teachers did not matter to Gov. Otter and a majority of the state Legislature,” said Mike Lanza, chair of Idahoans for Responsible Education Reform and co-founder (with Maria Greeley) of Idaho Parents and Teachers Together/Idahoans for Responsible Education Reform news release. Betsy Russell has full story here.
Question: Which has a better chance at succeeding in Idaho — the referendum against Tom Luna's education reforms or the petition drive to recall Tom Luna?
State schools Supt. Tom Luna told the House Education Committee this morning that the school budget set by JFAC yesterday shows the need for his reform bill, SB 1184. “Here we are facing a third year of funding cuts in our public schools,” he said. “It's clear this is the new normal in our economy. … we have to give our schools the tools they need to do more with less, and technology is the key to making that happen.” The bill shifts funds from teacher salaries to purchasing technology. The 24-page bill also makes a series of changes in how Idaho's schools are funded and brings in a new focus on online learning, while phasing in a plan to have one “mobile computing device” for every high school student in Idaho/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.
Question: Are you looking forward to the day your children receive their new state-provided computers and begin to learn online?
So now we have Son of Luna. Poised for another showdown in the Senate, this latest version looks different. No longer is there talk of cutting teaching jobs. It delays technology in the classroom until a task force of educators, tech experts and business people take a look. It assigns the State Board of Education with deciding the pace and scope of online instruction. To say the changes are cosmetic is being generous, however. Son of Luna isn't just a sequel. It's a clone, albeit one that conceals its intent and assigns the fault to others. Beginning next year, Son of Luna pulls $20 million from the account Idaho uses to pay teacher salaries. That comes on top of the $60 million legislators are preparing to cut from the public school budget/Marty Trillhaase, Lewiston Tribune. More here.
Question: Marty Trillhaase goes on to say that Luna 3, which was passed by Coeur d'Alene Sen. John Goedde's Education Committee Tuesday, will suck $420M from teacher pay in 6 years. Are you still persuaded that Luna's “reform” legislation is good for Idaho school children?
Lawmakers have unveiled the third piece of a plan to reform Idaho's public schools and boost technology in the classroom. The legislation has undergone significant changes since it was first introduced in the 2011 Idaho Legislature. Senate Education Committee Chairman John Goedde says a provision that would have eliminated hundreds of teaching jobs and boosted class sizes is gone, leaving decisions over how to allocate state funding and how many educators to retain up to the local school districts. While a previous version of the bill would have required students to take online courses, the revamped legislation directs the state Board of Education to draft rules governing how the Internet will figure in the classroom/Associated Press (via Eye On Boise). More here.
Question: Do you like this bill better now than when it was first introduced?
On Tuesday, the Idaho House approved the most political piece of State Superintendent Tom Luna's “education reform” effort and sent it on to receive a sure signature from Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter. Idahoans who care about schools - and politics - may look back on the vote to strip collective bargaining rights from the state's teachers and make tenure more tenuous for new teachers as a true watershed moment. Like the great Jack Dempsey, knocked out of the ring in a 1923 title fight, the Idaho Education Association's once-powerful role in the state's politics has been knocked for a loop, perhaps never to recover. Dempsey somehow pulled himself back in the ring against Luis Firpo and eventually won his famous fight. The IEA has rarely demonstrated that kind of agility/Marc Johnson, The Johnson Report. More here.
Question: Marc Johnson brings up a great point later re: the failure by the teachers union to organize its 13,000 foot soldiers throughout Idaho to fight back against anti-education legislators. Why hasn't the IEA been able to do so?
Coeur d’Alene High School students canceled a Monday morning walk-out to protest Idaho’s controversial school reform plan after the organizer said he didn’t want to jeopardize public support for Tuesday’s levy election. “We talked to the administration, and we didn’t want to give the impression that students are against the levy,” said Jesse Wedewer, a junior at Coeur d’Alene High. The Coeur d’Alene School District is asking voters to approve a $12.8 million-a-year, two-year maintenance and operations levy that would increase taxes by about $68 per year for the average Coeur d’Alene homeowner. Instead, Wedewer is urging students to attend an after-school rally Wednesday to support teachers/Spokesman-Review. More here. (AP, Idaho Press-Tribune file photo/Charlie Litchfield, of Boise High students protesting at Capitol Feb. 28)
Question: Would you participate in a walkout against Tom Luna's education “reform,” if you were a high school student in Idaho schools today?
Scott Nicholson, who described himself as a Vietnam veteran and a Republican, said he congratulated state schools Supt. Tom Luna on Election Night on his re-election, because he fought for education. But Nicholson said he's against SB 1108 and 1110. “I'm a tad tired of the vilification of teachers,” he told the House Education Committee. “Politicians calling teachers union thugs is unacceptable and disrespectful.” He said, “Silencing the opposition is never a good path forward. Engage them and they will help you.” Nicholson's testimony was followed by a burst of applause. House Education Chairman Bob Nonini, pictured, not only banged the gavel, he warned the audience that he could easily have the room emptied and just call them in one at a time/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.
Question: Do you think an individual known for his hot temper, like Bob Nonini, is the right person to be chairing a critical committee meeting on public education?
The centerpiece of Idaho's controversial school reform plan may be dead for this year, senators indicated, even as separate bills on teacher contracts and pay move through hearings in the House. The main bill, SB 1113, was pulled back to the Senate Education Committee last week after earlier squeaking through it on a 5-4 vote; late this afternoon, committee members said it's not coming back. The measure sought to raise Idaho's class sizes in grades 4-12 and eliminate 770 teaching jobs in the next two years, to generate millions in savings that would be funneled into technology boosts, including laptop computers for every high school student, and a teacher performance pay plan/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.
Question: How does this affect the other two bills?