BOISE – Idaho lawmakers on Monday took steps to reinstate parts of the controversial Students Come First school reform laws less than three months after voters overwhelmingly repealed them. State Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna championed the laws to roll back teachers’ collective bargaining rights; impose a new merit-pay bonus system; and dramatically boost technology in Idaho classrooms, including requiring online classes and supplying a laptop computer to every high school student. The bills passed in 2011 without a single Democratic vote in support and amid widespread opposition from teachers and others; in November, Idaho voters repealed all three by large margins. Read more
xxxxxxx Idaho school reform referenda
About this measure
Idaho Propositions 1, 2 and 3
Whether or not to repeal Idaho’s controversial new school reform laws is the hottest election issue in the state this year, with three referenda on the ballot.
A “yes” vote on Propositions 1, 2 and 3 would keep the “Students Come First” laws proposed by state schools Superintendent Tom Luna in place; a “no” vote would repeal them.
Because lawmakers pushed through follow-up bills adding emergency clauses to all three laws after opponents began gathering signatures for the referendum, the laws already have begun being phased in, rather than having been put on hold until the election; but that would stop if voters turn their thumbs down on some or all of the measures.
Luna promoted the reforms as a way to do more in Idaho schools without spending more money, after three years of unprecedented school budget cuts that he called Idaho’s “new normal.”
Here’s what the three measures do:
This measure rolls back most collective bargaining rights for teachers; makes all contract terms expire every year; limits contract negotiations only to salary and benefits; requires those negotiations to be conducted in open meetings; allows districts to impose terms if negotiations don’t yield agreement by a June deadline; and prohibits considering seniority when laying off teachers. It also eliminates an early retirement incentive program for teachers; requires parent input and student achievement to be factored into teacher evaluations; and eliminates the “99 percent” funding protection that school districts previously had when they lost large numbers of students from one year to the next, which previously held their state funding at 99 percent of the previous year’s to avoid sudden cutbacks including teacher layoffs. Requires information on liability insurance providers to be distributed to all teachers; in the past, many teachers have purchased such insurance through teachers unions.
This measure sets up a new merit-pay bonus program for teachers. Initially, teachers could get bonuses if they teach in a school in which student test scores rise, and if student achievement rises by other school district-selected measures. Later, they also could get bonuses for taking on leadership roles or working in hard-to-fill positions. This measure doesn’t fund the bonuses, however; the funding is contained in Proposition 3.
Rewrites Idaho’s school funding formulas to direct funds within the public school budget to the reform programs, including merit-pay bonuses, a new program to provide technology boosts including a laptop computer for every Idaho high school student and teacher, and a new focus on online learning.
Redirects a portion of existing state funding for schools to online course providers; the funds would automatically flow from school districts to the providers if students enroll in the courses, with no permission from school districts needed. Reduces state funding for Idaho Digital Learning Academy, a state-operated online course provider, with the idea that it could tap into the same formula as other providers if students choose its classes.
Directs state Board of Education to determine the number of online classes to be required for high school graduation; in response, the board has set that figure at two online classes. Funds dual-credit courses, for both college and high school credit, for students completing high school graduation requirements before their senior year. Shifts $14.8 million a year from teacher salary funds to help pay for the new programs. Directs funds within the school budget to math and science boosts to meet a new graduation requirement. Permits public colleges to run charter high schools.
State of Idaho
Less than three months after voters overwhelmingly repealed them, Idaho lawmakers on Monday reintroduced four bills to reinstate parts of the controversial “Students Come First” school reform laws, focusing on portions limiting teacher contract rights. Read more
Senate Education Chairman John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, said he backs new legislation allowing school boards to cut the salaries of experienced teachers because it beats laying off teachers. “When you’re given X number of dollars to employ teachers, either you employ less teachers and increase class size,” or reduce salaries, he said. … Read more
Idaho Education Association President Penni Cyr is disputing Idaho School Boards Association chief Karen Echeverria’s assertion that the IEA only had problems with two portions of Proposition 1, regarding continuing contract rights and limiting teacher negotiations to just salary and benefits. “Frankly, everything in Proposition 1is of concern to IEA and our members,” Cyr said. … Read more
Before she proposed her four pieces of new legislation this afternoon, Karen Echeverria, executive director of the Idaho School Boards Association, said she thought the Idaho Education Association, the state’s teachers union, really only objected to two parts of the voter-rejected Proposition 1: Banning teachers from negotiating any issues other than salary or benefits, and “the protection of their tenure and continuing contracts.” She said, “The ISBA will not be bringing any legislation on those two issues.” However, the bill she proposed today to repeal a law about teacher salaries dropping from one year to the next strikes at the heart of Idaho’s continuing contract law, the closest thing the state has to tenure for public school teachers. … Read more
Sen. Branden Durst, D-Boise, asked Idaho School Boards Association Executive Director Karen Echeverria about the recent Office of Performance Evaluations report that found a sense of “despair” among Idaho’s school teachers, and how the legislation she’s proposing to bring back parts of the “Students Come First” laws to limit teacher contract rights will affect that. … Read more
Four new bills proposed by the Idaho School Boards Association were introduced on party-line votes this afternoon in the Senate Education Committee to roll back collective bargaining rights for Idaho teachers, echoing some of the provisions in the voter-repealed Proposition 1. On all four, the panel's two Democrats, Sens. Branden Durst and Cherie Buckner-Webb of Boise, cast the only “no” votes. … Read more
The governor’s Task Force for Improving Education is meeting today from 10-3, at the Yanke Family Research Park, Room 207, 202. E. Parkcenter Blvd. in Boise. The morning portion of the meeting is being streamed live here, though the afternoon work session won't be streamed; you can see the agenda here. Read more
BOISE – A humbled Idaho schools Superintendent Tom Luna told state lawmakers Thursday that regardless of how it’s done, he wants Idaho to keep investing in teacher pay and classroom technology. Luna, whose ambitious “Students Come First” school reform laws were roundly rejected by voters in November, including plans to supply every Idaho high school student with a laptop computer, said he’s OK with the money being spent differently – but he wants it spent on schools. Read more
A humbled Idaho schools Superintendent Tom Luna told state lawmakers today that regardless of how it’s done, he wants Idaho to keep investing in teacher pay and classroom technology. Luna, whose ambitious “Students Come First” school reform laws were roundly rejected by voters in November, including plans to supply every Idaho high school student with a laptop computer, said he’s OK with the money being spent differently – but he wants it spent on schools; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com. “We made tremendous progress on getting monies for technology and for teacher compensation thorough the legislation that was passed in 2011,” Luna said. … Read more
BOISE – Some Idaho lawmakers want to make it harder for citizen initiatives to qualify for state ballots. The move by Idaho state Senate Republican leaders happened Monday in the wake of Idaho voters’ rejection of three school-reform laws last November. Read more
Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation is threatening to withhold $4.5 million it's promised to Idaho next year for a computer program to track student progress. The foundation in Boise says the money now won't be paid unless Idaho restores taxpayer fundingfor teacher professional development — money put in jeopardy when voters rejected public schools chief Tom Luna's Students Come First overhaul Nov. … Read more
The Idaho Education Association has released a report on its recommendations to improve public schools in Idaho, a year in the making from the IEA’s Education Excellence Task Force, which included a dozen top teachers from around the state. The recommendations range from making preschool universally available to low-income families in Idaho and moving to full-day kindergarten to an end to social promotion; from a streamlined dismissal process for underperforming teachers to a“state clearinghouse of quality online courses developed and taught by Idaho teachers.” “We believe that there’s something here for everyone,” said IEA president Penni Cyr. … Read more
Boise State Public Radio is hosting a “Community Conversation About the Future of Idaho’s Schools” Tuesday night at Salt Tears Noshery, 4714 W. State St. in Boise, starting at 6 tonight. Reporter Adam Cotterell and Morning Edition host Scott Graf will lead an informal community discussion; they’ll be joined by a panel including former state Rep. … Read more
BOISE – Idaho lawmakers who’ve been hoping to raid Idaho’s public school budget now that voters have rejected three school-reform laws had a setback last week: Doing so would require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature’s 20-member joint budget committee. Redirecting the reform funds within the public school budget, on the other hand, would require only a simple majority on the joint committee. Read more
At the first meeting today of the governor’s 31-member education stakeholders task force, members spent some time hearing about the fiscal impact on the current year’s budget of the failure of Propositions 1, 2, and 3, and the ongoing programs in school districts for which funds are left unallocated because of the measures’ failure; that includes adjustments in the “use it or lose it” funding provisions for school districts and funding for additional math and science teachers. … Read more
Gov. Butch Otter’s education stakeholders’ group has its first meeting today, running from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Yanke Family Research Park at 220 E. Parkcenter Blvd. The group has 31 members and is chaired by state Board of Education member Richard Westerburg. You can see today’s agenda and the full list of members online here. … Read more
As the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee went over its complicated rules this morning, Legislative Budget Director Cathy Holland-Smith highlighted JFAC Rule 13 – To reopen a budget, either to put more money in – a supplemental appropriation – or to take money out – a negative supplemental – requires a two-thirds vote of the joint committee. That matters for the next issue the joint committee is now reviewing: The fiscal impact of the failure of Propositions 1, 2 and 3 on this year’s public school budget. … Read more
BOISE – Idaho Gov. Butch Otter faces a major leadership test when Idaho lawmakers convene their legislative session on Monday: convincing many from his own party that it’s in the state’s best interest to run its own health insurance exchange, when many want no part of “Obamacare.” Otter’s tried before to convince recalcitrant fellow Republicans to do something they didn’t want to do, notably failing in 2009 to get them to raise state taxes to fund major road improvements. He tried vetoes. He tried arm-twisting. But his own party didn’t budge. Read more
Idaho Gov. Butch Otter announced today that he'll form a broad stakeholders' group to examine the best ways to improve Idaho's schools in the wake of the failure of the voter-rejected “Students Come First” reform plan, and said he's not looking for legislation in 2013. “I will not be prescriptive other thanto say I remain committed to equal access to opportunity for our children and to increasing support for our educators,” the governor said in a guest opinion distributed today to Idaho newspapers. … Read more
BOISE – Idaho school boards plan to press for laws that revive controversial school reforms that voters rejected in November. Among the provisions sought by the Idaho School Boards Association: allowing districts to impose contract terms unilaterally on local teachers unions if agreements aren’t reached by a firm deadline. Read more
Idaho voters rejected a rollback in teachers’ collective bargaining rights in the November election, but the state’s school boards association is gearing up to try to put some of the same provisions right back into Idaho’s laws. “We really tried to focus on the things that the trustees felt were most important to them,and to leave the rest of it alone,” said Karen Echeverria, executive director of the Idaho School Boards Association. … Read more
Idaho voters rejected a rollback in teachers’ collective bargaining rights in the November election, but the state’s school boards association is gearing up to try to put some of the same provisions right back into Idaho’s laws. Read more
BOISE – Leaders of the campaign to defeat Idaho’s controversial school reform laws are warning against bringing back pieces of the voter-rejected laws in Idaho’s upcoming legislative session. In a speech last week, Idaho Gov. Butch Otter said he’d recently seen a statewide poll that convinced him voters actually want some parts of the failed measures. Read more
Buoyed by the results of a private poll commissioned by Education Voters of Idaho, some backers of the failed “Students Come First” school reform laws – including Gov. Butch Otter – are calling for reviving “parts and pieces” of the voter-rejected laws. But the leaders of the successful referendum campaign against the laws say they shouldn’t be the starting point for new school reform discussions. … Read more
Leaders of the campaign to defeat Idaho’s controversial “Students Come First” school reform laws are warning against bringing back pieces of the voter-rejected laws in Idaho’s upcoming legislative session, though some lawmakers - and Gov. Butch Otter - are talking about a return of “parts and pieces” of the voter-rejected laws. Read more
The co-chairs of the successful campaign to defeat Propositions 1, 2 and 3 on the November ballot, the “Students Come First” or Luna laws, today released a statement applauding Gov. Butch Otter for looking into forming a broad stakeholder task force to look into future school reforms, but urged against enacting any new reform lawsin the upcoming legislative session. … Read more
Idaho Statesman columnist Dan Popkey reports this morning that state Purchasing Manager Mark Little resigned nine days after voters rejected the state's proposed $180 million-plus school laptop contract, prompting Statehouse speculation that he'd left in disgust over the process. State Department of Administration Director Teresa Lunatold Popkey that Little left to take a job closer to his family and grandkids and defended the laptop contract process; Little declined to comment. … Read more
BOISE – It was Idaho Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna himself who proposed Monday that the state Board of Education repeal the rule requiring that every Idaho student take at least two online classes to graduate from high school. Earlier this month, voters rejected Luna’s tech-heavy “Students Come First” school reform laws. Read more
After its 7-1 vote to repeal the requirement that every Idaho student take two online courses to graduate from high school, the State Board of Education today voted unanimously, with no discussion, to repeal its rules covering “fractional ADA,” a funding scheme that was part of Proposition 3 that automatically diverted state funds from school districts to online course providers, if students opted to take up to half their high school course load online, whether or not their districts approved. That was part of the “Students Come First” reform plan's push for a new focus on online learning; it also included a failed proposal to provide laptop computers to every Idaho high school student, at a cost of more than $182 million over the next eight years. … Read more
It was Idaho Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna himself who made the motion at the state Board of Education this morning to repeal the rule requiring that every Idaho high school student take at least two online classes to graduate from high school, now that voters have rejected his tech-heavy “Students Come First” school reform laws. Read more
It was Idaho Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna himself who made the motion at the state Board of Education this morning to repeal the rule requiring that every Idaho high school student take at least two online classes to graduate from high school. “Proposition 3 was overturned by the voters,” Luna said. “Overturning Proposition 3 in and of itself did not remove the two.” But, he said, “Because of the actions of the voters on Nov. … Read more
BOISE – Nearly two weeks after Idaho voters turned aside the state’s controversial Students Come First education reforms, the Board of Education on Monday will decide whether to modify or throw out a rule requiring all students take at least two online courses to graduate from high school. If the board does away with that requirement, it would contradict repeated claims made by state Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna, the author of the rejected laws, during the campaign. Luna said the online graduation requirement wouldn’t go away even if voters rejected Proposition 3 because it was in a state board rule. Voters rejected the measure by a two-thirds margin. Read more
Ken Edmunds of Twin Falls, president of the Idaho State Board of Education, said what the voters said last week “matters a great deal.” He said, “If people aren't satisfied with what we're doing, they're not going to support further change.” The board will hold a special meeting Monday to vote on a series of rule changes, including possibly repealing the requirement that Idaho high school students take two online courses to graduate from high school; doing away with a funding scheme that automatically diverts school districts funds to online course providers if students opt to take courses online, with or without their school district's permission; and considering whether to reconsider rules regarding teacher and principal evaluations. … Read more
‘Fractional ADA’ funding scheme diverting school funds to online providers also up for repeal Monday
There also are two other rule changes on the State Board of Education's agenda for Monday's special meeting that are a result of the rejection of the “Students Come First” laws by voters: One regarding “fractional ADA,” and another regarding teacher and principal evaluations. The agenda calls for fractional ADA to be repealed, while the evaluation issue may wait for input from stakeholders. “Fractional ADA” refers to Average Daily Attendance, which is the basis on which school districts receive their state funding, as it's tied through a complex formula to the number of students. … Read more