Latest from The Spokesman-Review
- Action: Tired of waiting for the Legislature to act, six Idaho cities have passed ordinances that prohibit discrimination against citizens in housing, hiring and public accommodations based on sexual orientation.
- Reaction: Idaho Republican Party leaders have called on the Legislature to void those ordinances and prevent other municipalities from passing similar ones.
- Action: Last fall, Idaho voters – via three referendums – successfully overturned education-related laws adopted by the Legislature.
- Reaction: The Legislature passed a law making it more difficult – some say impossible – to gather enough signatures to place an initiative or referendum on the ballot. Then lawmakers ignored the will of the voters and passed some of the education items anyway.
That’s life in Idaho, where about four out of five lawmakers are Republican, the right to petition the government is trampled and local rule is overruled. More here.
Question: Now repeat after me, fellow Republican: “It's time to quit voting straight-ticket Republican until the Idaho Republican Party begins listening to Idahoans instead of extreme activists.” Got it?
Former Sen. Tim Corder, R-Mountain Home, is criticizing Senate Education Committee Chairman John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, saying he displayed “wanton disregard for the public will” in helping reenact some of the anti-union measures in “Students Come First.” Though 57 percent of voters rejected Proposition 1 in November, the 2013 Legislature revived four provisions at the urging of the Idaho School Boards Association. The four bills signed by Gov. Butch Otter: restore board authority to cut teacher pay without declaring a financial emergency; eliminate ongoing “evergreen” contract provisions; require 50 percent teacher membership to qualify a union to collectively bargain; and eliminate an early retirement program/Dan Popkey, Idaho Statesman. More here.
Question: Will Coeur d'Alene voters remember Goedde's role in education “reform” if he seeks re-election in 2014?
Take it from an industry that has struggled to adjust and adapt: The world has changed, and those who resist that change risk becoming irrelevant. The newspaper business has finally stopped fighting the dramatic shift in the way information is communicated; its very survival depends upon creating excellent products and delivering them in ways consumers not only desire, but now demand. Public education faces many of the same challenges - and the same opportunities. Proposition 3 on Idaho ballots opens unlimited possibilities for public school students to learn with help from technology that they neither fear nor misunderstand, which cannot be said of some adults. Education reform adopted by the Idaho Legislature in 2011 includes a mandate for every high school to have wireless Internet access and every high school teacher and student a wireless computing device/Coeur d'Alene Press Editorial Board. More here.
- Also: Vote Yes on Propositions 1, 2/Coeur d'Alene Press
- Also: No on Propositions 1, 3; yes on Proposition 2/Idaho Statesman
- Also: CSB Trustees Seymour, Seddon support propositions/Coeur d'Alene Press letter
The new group that consolidates Tea Party branches across Idaho, urges “yes” votes on the three 2011 education laws authored by Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna. “FACTS and LOVE of Idaho's kids caused us to endorse Yes Yes Yes to keep Education Modernization Laws!” says the group in an email announcing a special edition newsletter. The newsletter reprints content provided by the Idaho Freedom Foundation, including an editorial by Executive Director Wayne Hoffman. Also includes a dissent from Bob Compton, a veterinarian, who questions the laptop mandate and says “Luna is encouraging implementation of a federal/UNESCO (United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization) program for our students that will move Idaho's education system even further away from local control”/Dan Popkey, Idaho Statesman. More here. (AP file photo)
Update: Christa Hazel is covering School Board meeting live for HucksOnline,
The Coeur d'Alene School Board is now meeting to discuss taking a position on the three ballot propositions associated with the Luna Laws.
- 6 p.m. You can follow the rest of Christa's coverge in the comments section.
- 5:36 p.m. Superintendent Bauman reports that our district received an AA2 rating from Moody's for our bonds. This is the highest bond rating for any school district in Idaho but for 1, which was AA1 for a charter school in Boise that didn't require an election.. Third party Moody's, gives our district this high rating because our financials are strong.
- 5:29 p.m. Noticeably absent from tonight's meeting audience.
- 5:28 p.m. Public comment on non-agenda items has concluded. The Superintendent's report plus Trustee comments are coming up soon. Estimated around 7:20 will be Props 1,2&3 discussion. Public comment regarding this agenda item will take place at that time.
- 5:24 p.m. A few Hayden Meadow parents signed up to speak during public comment of non-agenda items. Quite a few teachers are in attendance. Jim Purtee is absent from the meeting.
- 5:23 p.m. Angie Phillips asks the Board if the school board took into account the June 2010 IB/PYP Ad-Hoc Committe that addressed 7 in-depth questions resulting in 50-ish pages of analysis per question studying the impact of IB/PYP. She requested a personal reply from each board member on how this report played into their decision. Full statement here.
- 5:13 p.m. Tony Perka speaks to the Luna Laws. He asks if the school board has looked to the Boise School Board, who has a reasoned statement against the Luna Laws. He refers to “poli-tricks” involved with the Luna Laws. Claims Rep. Hammond stated nothing would change but Mr. Perka believes that this was a lie.
Question: Do you think the Coeur d'Alene School Board will take a position on the Luna Laws? Which way will the trustees come down, if they do?
The education labor union has reached a new milestone in lowness, attempting to turn Idaho voters into Luddites and depict kids as klutzes in order to satisfy a selfish agenda. Witness its first ad against Propositions 1, 2 and 3. Says the ad: “Prop 3 replaces teachers with computers by requiring that taxpayers fund laptops for high school students.” Not true. The law requires schools start using technology, and that mobile computing devices — which covers more than laptops, by the way, be part of the regular curriculum. It does not replace teacher with computers, robots, androids or holograms. The ad also claims that “the Legislature failed to fully fund the laptops required by Prop 3.” Also not true, which makes the further allegation, that the law will cause property taxes to go up, also erroneous/Wayne Hoffman, Idaho Freedom Foundation. More here.
Question: Have you seen the ad? What do you think of it?
Idaho Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna complains that a possible voter overturn of his Students Come First reform plan will be a “disruption.” For a definition, check for synonyms under “democracy” in the household dictionary. Or online. Americans have been disruptive since the original Tea Party. That colonists might object to a tax on their beverage seems not to have occurred to the British Parliament. So too, apparently, with the reforms enacted by the Idaho Legislature in 2011 that prompted a drive that collected the requisite signatures on three repeal measures in just a little more time than it took the founders to ink the Declaration of Independence/Spokesman-Review Editorial Board. More here.
Citing insufficient competition, Idaho officials have abandoned their original bidding process meant to equip public school teachers with laptop computers starting this fall. Instead, the state will negotiate directly with providers of computers and services, in hopes of keeping this five-year estimated $60 million piece of public schools chief Tom Luna’s “Students Come First” reforms on track even as he tries to fend off repeal measures on November’s ballot. State purchasing officials say only three private groups submitted bids following a request for proposals, or “RFP,” earlier this year. One missed the June 11 deadline and was excluded. Another was on time, but failed to meet state requirements. Only one actually met the qualifications/AP. More here.
Question: Why do you suppose there was so little interest in Idaho's call for bids for laptops?
It's on. On the Idaho ballot, that is. Come November, Idahoans will vote on three referenda aimed at repealing what may be the nation's most sweeping education reform, including new limits on collective bargaining for teachers. Think of it as the sequel to Wisconsin, where similar reforms led to a similar effort—the attempted recall of Gov. Scott Walker. At the heart of the political drama in Idaho is the state's superintendent of public instruction, Tom Luna. A glance at Mr. Luna's résumé shows a career businessman who became involved in his local school board and went on to serve in the Bush Education Department before returning to Idaho to run for his present office in 2006. Most refreshing is what's not on Mr. Luna's résumé: a degree in education/William McGurn, Wall Street Journal Main Street. More here.
Question: Do you see Idaho Superintendent Tom Luna as the ideological son of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker?
More than 100 people gathered on the steps outside Boise High School today to kick off a statewide campaign against the “Students Come First” school reform laws, which are up for possible repeal in three referendum measures on the November ballot. “We urge Idahoans to vote 'No' on all three propositions,” said Mike Lanza, a Boise father of two and campaign chairman. “These laws take us backward, not forward. They make it harder for teachers to do their jobs effectively. They are bad for children, bad for teachers and bad for Idaho.” Gov. Butch Otter already has formed a PAC to fight to preserve the laws, and state Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna, the laws' author, pushed hard for them at last weekend's state Republican Party convention/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.
Question: Who do you trust more with public education — Tom Luna/Idaho Legislature or teachers?
Dredging my notebook from Monday's meeting of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry I find this: Gov. Butch Otter asked the state's biggest business lobby to sustain the victory won by Otter and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna in passing what Luna calls “Students Come First.” The three measures passed by the Legislature in 2001 are subject to voter approval or rejection in November, after petitioners gathered over 200,000 signatures on three referendum petitions. “There are a lot of things that we have accomplished and those things can not be pushed aside,” Otter told the group in Sun Valley. “Idaho became one of the first states to reform its education”/Dan Popkey, Idaho Statesman. More here.
Question: Do you still think Otter didn't have a hand in helping Tom Luna foist his public education experiment on Idaho?
It looks like a local school district will be a guinea pig this fall for the Students Come First initiative put forward by Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna. The Idaho Department of Education named Genesee School District among 32 others across the state to receive the laptops, after 170 high schools applied and were blindly rated by a committee. That gives Latah County a decided advantage in the implementation process of the 1:1 initiative, because it allows for some technical questions to be answered. Giving taxpayer-funded, expensive electronics to teenagers shouldn't happen without shedding light on some details.“The Genesee School District is excited to be one of the first districts to receive the 1:1 laptop devices,” Superintendent Wendy Moore said in a prepared statement. “We believe this initiative will help bring greater educational opportunities for our students and help raise academic achievement. … That sounds great, but how will it help raise academic achievement?/Kelsie Moseley, Moscow-Pullman Daily News. More here.
Question: How will Tom Luna's free computers raise academic achievement in Idaho?
The failed multimillion dollar campaign to boot Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker from office is on its way to Idaho. We don’t know what form it will take, but you can imagine that some of the messages tried in Wisconsin will also be attempted here, all in an effort to return Idaho’s education system to a status quo that empowers labor unions and puts their interests ahead of schoolchildren. The labor unions don’t like that Idaho’s education reforms are allowing excellent teachers to be recognized and rewarded for their great work, are creating heightened transparency in the union negotiation process, have restored the power of elected school boards and now provide a means for school districts and their students to take advantage of technological innovation/Wayne Hoffman, Idaho Freedom Foundation. More here.
Question: Is Hoffman and other Hard Right Republicans producing a straw man by trying to tie attempts to overthrown Superintendent Tom Luna's education reforms to the Wisconsin recall vote?
John Foster, a former executive director of the Idaho Democratic party and former Democratic Congressman Walt Minnick's 2010 campaign manager, said Monday that he has ended his volunteer affiliation with the campaign by GOP Gov. Butch Otter and GOP Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna to preserve their 2011 education reforms. Foster said he told aides to Otter and Luna “about 10 days ago” that he needs to focus on building a new business with his partner, Kate Haas, Minnick’s former chief of staff. Foster and Haas were fired by Seattle-based Strategies 360 on Feb. 3 after Foster attempted to make the campaign a client for the company. Strategies 360 fired the pair in February and sued them. Foster and Haas counter-sued. Their new company is called Kestrel West/Dan Popkey, Idaho Statesman. More here.
Question: Is John Foster a man without a cause or party now?
In an editorial in the Lewiston Tribune this morning, opinionator Marty Trillhaase writes that individuals opposed to Superintendent Tom Luna's education reforms already have won the first round. Whether or not referendums against those reforms pass this November, Trillhaase writes that the 2012 Idaho Legislature gave opponents most of what they wanted. “Instead of raiding the teacher salary account to advance LunaTech's aims, lawmakers agreed to steer any additional money they receive each year toward those programs. All of which is fine if the state is in clover. But the guaranteed future flow of state funds into online instruction has been stripped away. When Idaho hits another rough patch, how will lawmakers find money to continue LunaTech? Do they cut something else? Ignore demands from rising Medicaid or prison case loads? Raise taxes? Raid the teacher salary account once again?” More here.
Question: Did Luna “reforms” die quietly while we weren't watching?
Nearly 1,300 Idaho teachers left the profession in 2011, up from about 700 the year before. More than half of the educators who abandoned teaching last year left for “personal reasons,” according to data from the state Department of Education. School districts reported another 96 teachers were fired and 85 were laid off in 2011, which is about the same as the previous year. The remaining 579 educators left to continue their education or because of military and family obligations. Other reasons included death, leave of absences or a spousal transfer. But the number of teachers leaving the profession for person reasons more than doubled to 697 in 2011, up from 314 in 2010, according records that the Idaho Education Association requested from the state's education department/Jessie L. Bonner, AP. More here.
Question: What part or the education reforms pushed by Superintendent Tom Luna, Gov. Butch Otter, and the Idaho Legislature playing in the loss of so many Idaho teachers?
Those supporting repeal of the Luna/Otter Educational “Reform” package in general, and the Idaho Education Association, in particular, might want to take note of comments and attitudes gleaned from a recent sit down with three teachers at St. Maries High School. The comments not surprisingly reflected a similar earlier sit down with a teacher in the Challis School District. All four said without hesitation they intended to vote to repeal the three items on the ballot in November. Like many they are offended by the lack of due process alone. In their eyes it was a betrayal of trust for Governor Otter and State Superintendent Luna to have campaigned for re-election in 2010 and not to have said word one to any involved in education about what they were planning to introduce a scant seven weeks later when the 2011 Legislature convened/Chris Carlson, The Carlson Chronicles. More here.
Question: Have you made up your mind re: how to vote on the anti-Luna referendums this fall?
OLYMPIA – A bipartisan group of legislators, backed by business and education reform groups, announced a push Thursday for charter schools and new teacher evaluations.
The Washington Education Association immediately questioned where the money would come from for charter schools and how the evaluation systems would be used.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna came under fire during the debate over his education reform package because some critics of the plan say he didn’t mention it during his run for re-election just months prior. Luna says he has been talking about reforms for years and that his record shows as much. The Republican superintendent also talked about his plans to fight three referenda that could overturn the laws in his reform packages. Over the course of the hearings dedicated to Luna’s legislation, several critics and detractors expressed dismay that the superintendent didn’t talk about his plan to reshape Idaho’s public school system in his 2010 re-election run/Dustin Hurst, Idaho Reporter. More here.
Question: Can anyone out there recall Superintendent Tom Luna mentioned his radical education reforms prior to the 2010 general election? Anyone?
OLYMPIA — Bad teachers and principals could be fired at the end of a school year if they don't improve under a series of education reforms proposed today by Gov. Chris Gregoire.
State universities would also set up “laboratory” schools in failing schools across the state and a cabinet-level office would be set up to coordinate and improve high school, college and technical school programs, under plans to be presented to the Legislature in January.
The office would oversee everything from high school through graduate level programs. Gregoire said she's dropped an earlier plan for a single office to coordinate everything from pre-school through Ph. D programs in the state.
The state's evaulation system would be changed from the current two levels of unsatisfactory and satisfactory to a four-level system: unsatisfactory, basic, proficient and distinquished.
A teacher or principal that was evaluated as unsatisfactory in September would be fired in the spring if he or she did not receive a new evaluation of at least basic. Teachers and principals evaluated as basic two years in a row would also be fired if they didn't move up to proficient.
Gregoire said the state needs an evaluation system that is fair, clear and effective, and helps every teacher grow. The current two-step system doesn't work, she insisted.
If you want to “fix schools,” apparently, there’s one group of people you should ignore. Teachers. And when, in the course of fixing schools, you ignore this group of people, you should make it clear that you are not really ignoring “the people.” They’re just teachers. If you want to fix schools and put students first – well, first after taxpayers and “customers” and federal standards and ideological opponents of unions – what you should do about this group of people is remove them from the equation altogether. Make ’em leave the room while kids learn on computers. Teachers. If only we could have schools – very cheap, very effective schools – without them/Shawn Vestal, SR. More here. (AP file photo of Superintendent Tom Luna)
Question: Why do Idaho political leaders have such disdain for teachers?
Idaho’s State Board of Education has set seven public hearings around the state on a proposed new online learning requirement for high school graduation, which would require two online credits to graduate. One of the two must be an “asynchronous” course, defined as one in which the teacher is not in the classroom with the student during instructional periods and both students and teachers participate in the course on their own schedules, rather than at a fixed time. The hearings start today in Idaho Falls; they include one Monday in Coeur d’Alene from 4-8 p.m. at North Idaho College, in Room 102 of the Meyer Health Building; and one in Moscow Aug. 16. Additional hearings are scheduled over the next two weeks in Pocatello, Fruitland, Nampa and Twin Falls/Betsy Russell, Eye On Boise. More here.
Question: Do you plan to participate in these Board of Education hearing re: proposed new online learning requirement?
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.
- 2012 thoughts/Adam's Blog, Adam Graham
- Toilet paper & Texas: Dealing with less/Dennis Mansfield
- Yummy freedom breakfast/Fort Boise
- What's the fuss about hobby mining?/Brad Smith, ICL
- Hill, Mansfield, ICB = perfect trifecta/Idaho Conservative Blogger
- No time to pray for rain or a heat wave/Rocky Barker, Statesman
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?