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Argonaut: Online Classes Won’t Help

In Idaho, now more than ever, it is time to focus on the importance of teachers and the benefits they provide students in high school. The four years of high school are crucial in determining how students progress in their education. Teachers provide encouragement and are the mentors students need as they strive for higher education and find their niche in the workforce. Reducing the in-person factor with online classes will ultimately hurt students, which contradicts Luna’s main reason for adding the requirement. Luna said requiring high school students to take online classes will prepare them for college. In college, however, students aren’t required to take online classes and those offered aren’t worth it. True education and learning is lost when the only means of obtaining information is from a computer screen/Elizabeth Rudd, UI Argonaut. More here.

Questions: Do you suppose Superintendent Tom Luna considered how his online class requirement will affect high school students who move on to college?

Westerberg: ‘There is no equivocation among the board members’

Richard Westerberg, president of the Idaho State Board of Education, said after the board's unanimous vote to approve an online-class requirement for high school graduation, “We certainly received some input.” He said, “The board is firmly behind online learning. We believe it's imperative moving forward that our students be able to have skills in that area.” Mark Browning, state board spokesman, noted that many of the public comments objected to the law calling for requiring online courses. “That ship has sailed,” Browning said. “We have a law passed by the Legislature.”

Westerberg said the public comments received in public hearings across the state, which were largely negative as were those received in the final comment period on the rule, “actually informed what the rule might be.” He said, “Two credits is actually a fairly modest requirement.” State Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna's original proposal was to require eight online classes for graduation.

Westerberg said, “There is no equivocation among the board members - that's an area that we need to get good at, our students need to get good at.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

IEA: Decision on online classes should be for ‘students and parents, not state’

The Idaho Education Association has issued a statement in response to the state Board of Education's vote today to require every Idaho student to take two online classes to graduate from high school, saying in part, “Idaho educators, parents, and students see value in online classes. We recognize that they are a good choice for many students. However, Idahoans have said repeatedly since last January that the decision to take online classes should be made by students and their parents, not by the state.” Click below for the full statement.

State board members on online class rule: ‘I thought that was pretty good’

State Board member Don Soltman, who made the motion to approve the online class requirement, said, “For the record, during the 21-day comment period there were … additional comments,” generally saying that they “felt there should not be an online learning requirement.” He said, “Additional concerns were expressed” about financial impacts on school districts and on the Idaho Digital Learning Academy.

Board member Milford Terrill said he had a discussion about the rule with his grandson. “He's a home schooler, and he is now in one of our universities here in the state of Idaho, and he's writing a paper in his English class on why this is so important to kids, to have these credits in being able to do stuff online, because he, everything he does, his assignments, everything that the teacher has to say, he has to go online to find that out. And now he's doing a speech, as we speak, in communications class as to why this is important. And I found that very interesting, a kid 19 years old, is writing an epistle on why this is good and giving speeches on why we should have this in our institutions, and in our K-12 program. So I thought that was pretty good.”

The board's unanimous vote means Idaho students now must take two online classes to graduate from high school. The Legislature will review the rule during its session that starts in January, but it already passed the school-reform legislation that called for the new online-class requirement.

Online class requirement approved

State Board of Education members have voted 8-0 in favor of requiring every Idaho student to take two online classes to graduate from high school, a rule that's been widely panned at public hearings across the state and drawn mostly negative public comment, but is a centerpiece of state schools Supt. Tom Luna's “Students Come First” school reform plan.

School tech task force grapples with laptop questions, online course funding

Idaho's school technology task force, charged with figuring out how to implement plans for buying laptop computers or other devices for every Idaho high school student and teacher and implementing state school Superintendent Tom Luna's “Students Come First” reform plan's new focus on online learning, is meeting today and tomorrow in the Capitol Auditorium; you can listen live here. The task force is now hearing a presentation from Professor James Basham of the University of Kansas on “Universal Design for Learning;” you can see the full agenda here.

Among things that have come up so far today: Three vendors have expressed interest in Idaho's statewide contract for the computing devices so far, as the state moves through its “request for information” phase prior to issuing a request for proposals. Also, a subcommittee of the task force is developing a request for information for a statewide contract for online courses. Approved online courses would have to be taught by a teacher with an Idaho certificate, but the teacher could be located elsewhere. Later this morning, the task force is scheduled to hear a presentation on technology and services for the deaf and blind, and discuss the controversial “fractional ADA” funding formula in the reform law that shifts a portion of a school's per-student state funding (known as ADA, or Average Daily Attendance) to an online course provider if that student chooses to take an online course from the provider.

Tech task force members object to restrictions on contacts with computer vendors

Several committee members are raising concerns about warnings to school technology task force members to avoid contacts with computer vendors. “Certainly the members of this committee are not the experts and need to be looking to the outside community, whether it be schools or vendors or research,” Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d'Alene, told state purchasing officer Sarah Hilderbrand. “I think you're suggesting that we put on blinders.”

Hilderbrand explained that if a particular senator met with two vendors, but not with any others, that wouldn't be acceptable in the purchasing process. “We want to make sure that it is above board, we want to make sure that there isn't any appearance that we're getting certain information, but we're not talking to this vendor over here,” she said.

State board backs new online course requirement, opens 21-day comment period

Idaho's State Board of Education voted 8-0 on Friday to approve a rule requiring all Idaho students to take two online courses to graduate from high school, despite strongly negative testimony at seven public hearings around the state. One of the two courses must be asynchronous, meaning the students and teachers participate on their own schedules. The board's vote opened a 21-day comment period on the new rule, which takes effect with the graduating class of 2016, this year's eighth-graders. Click below for a full article from AP reporter Jessie Bonner.

Luna Claims NYTimes Misquoted Him

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?