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Goedde: Requiring just 2 online classes is ‘realistic’

Idaho state Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d'Alene, said he supports the new recommendation for two online courses for high school graduation, down from state Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna's original proposal of eight. “It wasn't eight for very long,” Goedde said, noting, “Then it went to four.” He said, “Understand we're talking about a graduation requirement, so that's a minimum. … Lots of students … may take 10 or more.”

Goedde, who served on the State Board of Education's committee that settled on the recommendation, said, “The thinking on an asynchronous requirement is that high school graduates are going to need to have the skills associated with online learning when you do not have face-to-face access to an instructor. … They need to have some self-discipline and time management.”

Though the two-course requirement still needs approval from the full State Board of Education, Goedde noted that two state board members were on the committee that settled on the figure. “My guess is it should have fairly smooth sailing,” he said. He noted that the most any state has required, as far as online courses for high school graduation, is one, and only three states have gone that route. “So I'm comfortable with two,” Goedde said. “I think it's realistic.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

Tech glitches interrupt online presentation to tech task force

The online presentation from Maine about that state's student laptop program was interrupted by another videoconference back there, and various interruptions from tech people, including one who said he had “hard muted” one of the sources because “it sounds like we're in a math class.” That drew laughter in Idaho. Finally, Maine ed official Steven Garton gave up on answering questions from Idaho task force members and just gave his email address.

Maine ed tech official: ‘It takes the teacher to make this work’

“Students Come First” Technology Task Force member Christine Donnell asked Maine educational technology coordinator Steven Garton, “We have encountered some resistance to this legislation. … Can you help us learn from your experiences, how we can overcome these bumps in the road?” Garton responded, “This has never been a replacement for teachers, and I don't see how this, I think the fear of technology coming in and taking over for a teacher is something that's been out there, but it takes the teacher to make this work, it takes the teacher to use it.”

Garton said the best “virtual schools” have found that “in order for it to work, the student-teacher ratio actually has to be less, because they have to be communicating more with each student.” He said there's some fear that online learning will turn public school classes into a “university lecture hall” type setting where hundreds of students listen to one teacher. “In the public school setting, that's not really what the people are looking for,” he said. “They found that the students do not perform. … We really haven't had that problem in Maine.”

Idaho task force hears how Maine runs its student laptop program

The “Students Come First” technology task force now is hearing an online presentation from the head of the Maine Learning Technology Initiative, Steven Garton, on how that state's laptop computer program for every student has worked. State Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d'Alene, who is chairing the task force this morning (state schools Supt. Tom Luna, the chairman, isn't here, but is participating online), said Maine started its “one-to-one” laptop initiative in 2002, and is “one of the states that probably have the most history behind them in online learning.”

Among Garton's hints to Idaho: His state carefully structured its request for proposals for the computers, and now two other states may join in its next RFP; Idaho could join in too, he said. Maine currently uses Apple computers Other perhaps surprising aspects of the Maine program: The computers must go home with the students. Maine found that damage actually went down with that requirement, Garton said. Without it, he said, “You can't assign homework assignments that must be done at home because the student doesn't have the device.” A key is parent meetings to acquaint them with the expectations for student use of the computers. There's no filtering of student computer use at home; instead, there's logging, showing what students have done so they can be held accountable. He also noted that the Maine program includes elaborate charging programs and battery-replacement, rather than having power cords strung about in classrooms; the service contract requires replacement of batteries once they can't last the whole school day. Schools also have spares on hand for any student whose computer breaks or is in repair.

Garton also told the Idaho task force, “If the student has music on their machine, they're going to take care of it.” And he said professional development for teachers is a top priority in Maine to make the program work. “We have 13 people on our staff that just do professional development,” he said. It includes twice-weekly webinars for teachers and more.

Idaho now looking at requiring 2 online courses for graduation, down from eight

Idaho's tech-focused “Students Come First” school reform plan originally envisioned requiring all Idaho students to take eight online classes to graduate from high school, though that number was later dropped to four, and then left open; Gov. Butch Otter has expressed interest in students taking a dozen online courses or more. Now, a task force of the state Board of Education has recommended setting that number at just two courses, one of which must be asynchronous, meaning it's conducted online at the student's own schedule, as opposed to a live video class on a set schedule. “That will be two online credits for the high school career,” state Department of Education official Luci Willits told the “Students Come First” Technology Task Force this morning. “That is their recommendation.”

If the State Board of Education approves the recommendation in August, it will go out for public comment, and then likely imposed as a rule, which would take effect immediately though lawmakers still would review it in January. “It is important for this committee to know what the state board has decided, and that is two online credits for graduation,” Willits told the task force. She noted that that could change, depending on the full board's action, but it's the likely path, and task force members should consider it as they make their plans. The task force will need to begin drafting its recommendations for implementing the reform program by October, Willits told the group.

School tech committee members don’t want to turn off their tech…

As the “Students Come First” Technology Task Force begins its meeting this morning in the state Capitol Auditorium, facilitator Lauren Morando Rhim reminded members to turn off their technology items, like smartphones, to focus on the business at hand. A committee member, Keven Denton, suggested a change to that: Rather than turning off technology, some members will want to use it to take notes and the like, he noted. Rhim agreed, and amended her instruction: “It's use technology appropriately so it doesn't distract you from the task at hand,” she told the group.

School technology task force to meet Monday, Tuesday

The “Students Come First” Technology Task Force will meet Monday and Tuesday at the state capitol; the agenda includes presentations on the Maine Learning Technology Initiative, the Denver Public Schools Instructional Management System, and one from several executives and the sales director for Discovery Education; subcommittee meetings also are planned. You can see the full agenda here, and watch the meeting live here.

Recall drive falls short; no special election in August on Luna, Toryanski, Ellsworth

The effort to recall state Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna has officially failed, with backers falling well short of the 158,000-plus signatures needed by today's deadline to force a special election in August. An effort to target two Boise legislators for recall, GOP Sen. Mitch Toryanski and Rep. Julie Ellsworth, for their support of Luna's school reform bills, also fell short, gathering only about a quarter of the required signatures. Morgan Hill, campaign manager, said, “It's not that we didn't have support for it. I think that people all over the state were looking to sign a recall petition. We're still getting people even today who are coming up to us. But a lot of people didn't have access to us, they didn't know about it. … A lot of folks didn't even know who Tom Luna was to begin with, which was the most surprising thing.”

Hill, a Boise pilot, said the campaign raised only about $4,500, plus another $15,000 worth of in-kind advertising donations, and relied entirely on volunteers. Though it reported in early June that it had more than 75,000 signatures, Hill said an “error in the numbers” forced a recount yesterday, which led to the conclusion late last night that the campaign had gathered only about 50,000 signatures for the statewide recall petition. “Yeah, the bar was very high, and maybe unachievable, but we did a very great thing, and that's involving people in the political process,” Hill said. “Something we can look forward to in the future is that we have so many more people, tens of thousands more people now, who are involved in the political process who would not have been otherwise.”

Hill said the campaign also was hurt by the Idaho Education Association's decision not to support the recall effort; the teachers' union backed a successful referendum drive that will place all three of Luna's controversial new school reform laws on the ballot for possible repeal in the November 2012 election.

Hill will hold a press conference on the state Capitol steps at 4 p.m. today, and he said the campaign consider forming a new nonpartisan watchdog organization. “This was all started because of one man's reckless leadership and his intention to basically deconstruct the education system and basically feed it off to special interests,” Hill said. “The people came together because of that. Despite that we didn't make it, we did accomplish a much bigger goal, which is involving so many more people into the political process. I think that is the real victory, that a lot more people are aware now.”

For-profit online course providers to compete with locals, under school reform law

The Idaho Statesman's Dan Popkey reports today that some members of the Students Come First Technology Task Force got an unwelcome surprise in subcommittee meetings of the group this week - the consortiums their school districts are forming to offer distance-learning classes over the Idaho Education Network won't qualify as online courses for graduation requirements for the kids in their own district, who are in the same building as the teachers. It also appears that their efforts won't prevent district funds being siphoned off to other online course providers, including for-profit ones, if students decide to take classes from them.

That's the “fractional ADA” provision of the reform laws, the part that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush yesterday described as unique in the country. ADA stands for average daily attendance, which determines how state school funds are parceled out to school districts. Under the reform laws, if students decide to take an online class, a fraction of the ADA for that student is automatically shifted to the online course provider, whether or not the school district approves of it.

Popkey reports that Cliff Green, regional vice president for the for-profit Insight Schools and a member of the task force, sees opportunity in the new formula, making it easier for companies like his to compete with the state-operated Idaho Digital  Learning Academy, which now offers online courses to all Idaho schools. “It's been hard to come into a state and compete with subsidy,” Green said, referring to IDLA. “Now, whoever has the best product will win.” You can read Popkey's full story here.

Idaho plan for online course requirements called ‘model for rest of country’ by Jeb Bush

Here's a link to my full story at spokesman.com on this morning's visit from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise to boost state schools Supt. Tom Luna's “Students Come First” school reform plan; Bush proclaimed Idaho's new laws requiring online courses and funding them “one of a kind,” and said he thinks they “will be the models for the rest of the country.” And here's a link to an April New York Times story on how Bush is pushing his “Florida Formula” for education reform around the nation.

Bush: Good results will diminish opposition

As members of Idaho's school technology task force get the chance to question former governors Jeb Bush and Bob Wise, the first question was from state Sen. Melinda Smyser, R-Parma, a school board member, who asked “what one thing made the difference in making it successful, your whole revamping of education.” Bush responded: Results. “We have rising student achievement as measured by independent means,” he said. “That's exactly what I think you'll see with these sweeping reforms that you all passed. Implemented right, you're going to see rising student achievement. It takes away a lot of the opposition.” He added, “You can measure whether they're successful or not by the actual results.”

Wise: ‘We’re either boldly innovative, or we’re badly irrelevant’

Former West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise told Idaho's school technology task force, “This is the choice: We're either boldly innovative, or we're badly irrelevant.” he said, “You already demonstrated your capacity to be boldly innovative. You have the chance to be the leader not only for Idaho but for all of the country.”

What they’ve done, their ‘10 elements’…

Here's a link to the “10 elements of digital learning” established by the Digital Learning Council, headed by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise. Bush, who served two terms as governor of Florida ending in 2007, is known for reforms including private-school vouchers, online courses and requiring third-graders to pass reading tests before they move up to fourth grade, ending “social promotion.” Wise served as West Virginia's governor from 2001 to 2005, and pushed successful “promise scholarship” legislation that helped thousands of West Virginia high school graduates continue their education; he's also the chairman of the national board for professional teacher standards.

Wise: Schools face ‘3 looming crises’

The nation is facing “three looming crises,” former West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise told Idaho's school technology task force this morning: Declining state revenues; mounting teacher shortages, including in specific subject areas; and a growing demand for an increasingly educated workforce. “At the same time we know we have to send more on to post-secondary, we have at least a 42 percent remediation rate going on in our community colleges,” he said. “These are students who didn't get what they needed the first time.”

Wise asked, “Is there somebody to blame?” whether it's unions, parents, teachers, government, or anyone else. “I would suggest to you that there are a lot of people trying very, very hard,” he said. Showing a slide of a cell phone from 10 years ago vs. an up-to-date smart phone, Wise said we're using different and better tools now. “That's what can happen in the classroom,” he said.

Luna moves on reforms even as referendums to undo them make ballot

Idaho state schools chief Tom Luna opened the deliberations of a 39-member task force today that'll help determine how to implement big new school technology investments, even as the Idaho Secretary of State's office issued certificates officially placing three referendums on the November 2012 ballot to overturn the reforms. The final tally, issued Monday, showed each of the three referendum petitions on Luna's “Students Come First” reform bills received more than 74,000 signatures, far more than the required 47,432.

Nevertheless, Luna said today, “We're implementing the law. … It's the law of the land. We can't have the education system in Idaho in limbo, so our job now is to implement this properly. … That's why this committee is meeting today.” House Education Chairman Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d'Alene, who serves on the task force, said, “We've got our work ahead of us. … We'll just move forward as if the referendums are not going to pass.”

After a full day of meetings today, including afternoon gatherings of five subcommittees, the task force scheduled to hear Tuesday from former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise; you can watch live here. “This is just the beginning,” Luna said. “There's meetings every month from here on out.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

Three referendums officially on ballot, more than 74K signatures on each in final count

Official certificates were issued by the Idaho Secretary of State's office today placing three referendums on the November 2012 ballot to give Idaho voters a say on whether to repeal the three major education reform bills enacted by the Legislature this year. In the final count, SB 1108, the bill removing most collective bargaining rights from teachers, got 74,024 signatures, and will be Proposition 1 in November; SB 1110, the bill setting up a merit-pay bonus system, got 74,129 signatures and will be Proposition 2 on the November ballot; and SB 1184, the bill shifting funds from teacher salaries to technology, got 74,922 signatures and will be Proposition 3.

“All three referendums exceed the number of signatures required,” wrote Chief Deputy Secretary of State Tim Hurst in a letter to Mike Lanza, head of Idahoans for Responsible Education Reform, in a letter dated today. The signed petitions were delivered to the Secretary of State's office last week in 125 boxes.

Incidentally, I had been using “referenda” to describe the three measures, and was surprised to see my newspaper use “referendums” as the plural, prompting me to look it up. My dictionary says either is acceptable, but the AP stylebook, without explanation, prefers “referendums.” The personal blog of Lord Norton of Louth, a professor of government at the University of Hulls who sits in the British House of Lords, notes, “Referendum is one of those rare gerunds for which there is no plural in Latin. I quote from footnote 1 in David Butler and Austin Ranney’s, Referendums Around the World: ‘We speak of referendums, not referenda, on the advice of the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary: 'Referendum is logically preferable as a plural form meaning ballots on one issue (as a Latin gerund referendum has no plural).  The Latin plural gerundive referenda, meaning ‘things to be referred’, necessarily connotes a plurality of issues.’ ” So I'll call them referendums.

Idaho won’t pay for Jeb Bush, Bob Wise presentation to ed technology task force

Idaho won't be paying anything to bring former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise to Boise next Tuesday to address state schools Supt. Tom Luna's “Students Come First” technology task force, according to Luna's office. “They're just coming on their own - they're paying for their own way, we're not paying for them,” said Melissa McGrath, Luna's spokeswoman. “We just invited them and asked if they would be interested to come and present at our technology task force. They had kind of kept track of the legislation as it moved through the session … and were interested. … We asked them if there would be speaking fees involved, and they said no. … They're paying their travel and their hotel. … We are very excited to have them come.”

The two head the Digital Learning Council, a group they launched in 2010 to promote “high quality digital learning.”

Luna schedules Jeb Bush to address first tech task force meeting

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Public schools chief Tom Luna says two former governors will visit Idaho next week to help him kick off the first meeting of his technology task force. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise are expected to make presentations Tuesday when Luna's task force convenes at the Idaho Capitol in Boise. The task force was formed as part of Luna's new education reforms and the group will study the implementation of a laptop program for Idaho high school students. The state will also limit teachers union bargaining rights, introduce merit pay and shift money from salaries to classroom technology as part of Luna's education reforms. Some teachers, parents and students have criticized the measures, prompting a referendum campaign aimed at repealing them.

Referendum backers deliver petitions to qualify measures for 2012 ballot

Backers of three referendum measures to overturn this year's school reform bills formed a line outside the state Capitol this afternoon under a light rain, stretching from a truck parked at the corner of 6th and Jefferson streets all the way inside the state Capitol, where they passed 125 boxes of verified petition signatures from hand to hand, then loaded them on carts and delivered them to the Idaho Secretary of State's office. The referenda needed at least 47,432 valid registered voters' signatures each to make the 2012 ballot, but far more than that were delivered. “They're about 25,000 over what they need,” said Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, looking over the boxes, which were stacked in his small conference room, nearly filling the room. “This is more than we've ever seen – seventy-some thousand times three. That's the most we've ever seen, times three.”

The Secretary of State's office will count the verified signatures over the next two days or so, before making the official announcement that the measures will be on the ballot, but Ysursa said that's pretty well assured.

More than 100 supporters wearing bright-yellow, blue and white T-shirts with slogans including “Idaho says NO to larger class sizes,” “Idaho says no more cuts,” and “Idaho says no to replacing teachers with laptops,” gathered afterward to rally in the Capitol rotunda. “This is a huge achievement,” Mike Lanza, a Boise parent and chairman of Idahoans for Responsible Education Reform, told the group. “We're turning in 72,000 to 73,000 signatures on petitions that we needed 47,000 for. … This is not a vocal minority, as some people have claimed. This is the people of Idaho … who think this is a bad plan for Idaho schools.”

Lanza said he was “pleasantly surprised” that the group gathered so many signatures. “Certainly we assumed at the start it was going to be a challenge,” he said. In the final two weeks, after state schools Supt. Tom Luna issued a memo warning teachers statewide that their certification could be endangered if they engaged in political activity at school, the numbers surged, Lanza said. “That motivated people more,” he said. “It was incredible to see.” Addressing the crowd, Lanza said, “The people of Idaho will finally have their say on these widely unpopular laws. … By turning in these kinds of numbers, we have sent a powerful message: Idaho's parents and educators will not be ignored.”

Mountain View High School English teacher Sally Mitchell told the crowd, “The misguided and mean-spirited attacks on teachers by those in office are inexcusable. Standing up for my profession does not make me a thug.” She said, “Our power as citizens is ultimately greater than theirs.”

The three bills eliminate most collective bargaining rights for teachers; impose a new merit-pay bonus system; and shift funds from teacher salaries to technology investments and more online learning. All three passed the Legislature this year and were signed into law by Gov. Butch Otter, who joined Luna in championing the reform package they dubbed “Students Come First.”

Gov. Otter vows to personally campaign against school-reform referenda, as signatures stack up

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.”

Mike Lanza, a Boise parent and chairman of Idahoans for Responsible Education Reform, said, “The governor has made it clear from the start that he's a supporter of Supt. Luna's plan. He did not seem to be very concerned at all about the enormous public outcry against the plan when it was in the Legislature, so we believe that the governor is simply out of touch with public opinion on this one.”

The latest figures show county clerks have verified 65,088 valid signatures to place a referendum on SB 1108, the teacher contracts bill, on the November 2012 ballot; 65,252 for SB 1110, the merit pay bill; and 63,744 for SB 1184, the technology bill. It won't be official until backers present the verified petitions to the Idaho Secretary of State's office on Monday, the deadline, but Secretary of State Ben Ysursa said with the numbers running thousands above the required 47,432, “It's pretty solid that they're going to be on.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

Of school reform, panic buttons, lawsuits and ranking 50th…

While I'm off enjoying time with family this week, the news marches on: The referendum on this year's school reform legislation has gathered enough signatures to make the November 2012 ballot - read a full report here from AP reporter John Miller - state Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna's office installed a third “panic button” in March, according to a report here from Twin Falls Times-News reporter Ben Botkin; a federal appeals court has revived the decades-old “Jeff D” lawsuit against the state of Idaho over substandard childrens' mental health care; you can read a full report here from AP reporter Rebecca Boone; new census numbers show Idaho ranks 50th in per-pupil spending - before the latest budget cuts - the Idaho Statesman's Kevin Richert writes about it here; and a tea party group wants a conservative Idaho publishing house's version of constitutional history taught in schools; read the AP report here.

Luna, teachers tussle over political activity warning

State Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna is warning Idaho teachers they could lose their certification if they participate in recall efforts against him or a referendum effort to repeal his school reform legislation or engage in other political activities on school grounds. Idaho Education Association officials decried the warning, which went out in a statewide email to school districts and school boards on Friday, with IEA President Sherri Wood saying, “Through his email, Luna is trying to shut down a process in which he has a clear political interest.” Melissa McGrath, Luna's spokeswoman, said, “We are in no way trying to stop someone from being politically active. We just make sure educators are following the code of ethics.” You can read Luna's full email here, the IEA's full response here, and click below for a full story from AP reporter Jessie Bonner.

Referendum backers say they’re halfway there

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.

Luna says he’ll expand ‘Students Come First’ tech task force to 35 members

Idaho state Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna announced today that he's expanding the 28-member technology task force that will oversee implementation of his “Students Come First” tech plan to add seven additional members - two parents, three local school board members, and two “at-large” members. Of the 28 members already called for in SB 1184, the school reform bill that included the task force, Luna is charged with appointing 17. “Because of overwhelming interest from across Idaho, I have added positions for parents, school board trustees and at-large members to ensure we have broad-based and balanced representation on this task force, which will play a critical role in the implementation of Students Come First,” Luna said. Click below for his full announcement; he's accepting applications and nominations for his appointees to the panel.

Luna can do this because the clause of SB 1184 that calls for the task force, on page 21 of the 24-page bill, says he'll serve as the chairman of the task force and designates particular types of appointments he'll make to the task force “at a minimum,” including four school district superintendents, one head of a virtual public charter school, two secondary school classroom teachers and so forth. The others who get to appoint task force members - the House and Senate, which get two appointments each; the governor's office, which gets one; and the Idaho Education Association, Northwest Professional Educators, Idaho School Boards Association, Idaho Association of School Administrators, Idaho Business Coalition for Education Excellence, and Idaho Digital Learning Academy, each of which get one appointee - don't have that “at a minimum” language.

IEA files suit to challenge SB 1108, the teacher-contracts bill

The Idaho Education Association filed a lawsuit in 4th District Court in Ada County today challenging the constitutionality of SB 1108, the bill to remove most collective bargaining rights from Idaho teachers, and related “trailer” bills including one adding an emergency clause to that measure. “Because the Legislature, Gov. Otter and State Superintendent Luna failed to listen to the voices of Idaho citizens and, in the case of SB 1108 and the trailer bills, overstepped their legal bounds, the IEA supports citizen efforts to place referenda on the ballot challenging the Luna laws,” said Sherri Wood, IEA president.  “Likewise, we will challenge the constitutionality of SB 1108 and the trailer bills.”

You can read the group's legal complaint here, and its news release here, and read our full story here at spokesman.com.

Luna Seeks A Few Good Techies

The State Department of Education is now accepting applications and nominations for anyone interested in serving on the Students Come First Technology Task Force, Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna announced today. Under Senate Bill 1184, the Superintendent of Public Instruction is required to convene a task force to help in implementing the technology components of the Students Come First law.  Specifically, the task force will study and develop plans for the one-to-one ratio of mobile computing devices in high schools/Superintendent Tom Luna news release. More here.

Question: Are you interested in being part of Tom Luna's Students Come First Technology Task Force?

In wake of school reform bills, campaigns gear up, levies sought

“Idahoans for Responsible Education Reform” began collecting signatures today on referendum petitions to overturn this year's three major school reform bills, SB 1108 on teacher contracts, SB 1110 on teacher merit pay, and SB 1184 on funding shifts for technology. Mike Lanza, a Boise father of two and chairman of the group, said, “The referendum effort is now fully under way.” The group has launched a website here. Meanwhile, the Idaho Education Association's delegate assembly voted today to endorse the referendum drive; and up in North Idaho, the West Bonner County School District joined the ranks of districts around the state planning to ask local taxpayers to approve increased property taxes in May to help cope with state funding cuts.

“If our levy doesn’t pass on May 17th, we will most likely go to a 4-day week, end all co-curricular/sports for our students, and all employees will take something in the range of a 20% pay cut,” wrote West Bonner Supt. Mike McGuire in a note to his local lawmakers. “Also, we will be forced to consider elimination of several teaching positions (probably at the secondary level) within the new legislative guidelines and force our students to take online classes.”

Also, a group called “RecallTomLuna.org” that's seeking to recall state schools Supt. Tom Luna and two state lawmakers is planning events around the state Saturday to kick off its separate petition drives.

Goedde Pushing Luna Plan Start-Up

The north Idaho state senator who helped shepherd wide-reaching changes to the state’s public education system says he thinks voters won’t strike down the reform efforts and that state education leaders must now get started rolling out the policies and rules to that follow the changes of the laws. Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, sponsored the “Students Come First” plan from Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna, and chairs the Senate Education Committee, which formally introduced the legislation of the plan, heard the most testimony on the education reform package and cast the narrowest votes on package/Brad Iverson-Long, Idaho Reporter. More here.

Question: Do you have a different view of Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d'Alene, now that he and Rep. Bob Nonini, R-Post Falls, have been instrumental as Education committee chairmen in pushing through Tom Luna's education 'reforms'?

FLS: Laptop In Every Locker? C’mon

Fat Lady Sings: Laptops for every student? Really? What happens when students (who lack supervision and/or the presence of positive role models or who trip on a rock) damage, destroy or pawn their laptops? How is the laptop replaced? What is the turn around time? What happens if the student misses a test as a result of not having access to their laptop? Who will provide IT services for the students? What happens if the student’s parent/s lose a job and cannot afford the internet connection and the service is shut off by the provider? And a 100 other what-if questions that are not even far fetched … what then? It’s an administrative and financial nightmare. (Full comment below)

Question: What do you think of Tom Luna's plan to provide a laptop to every high school freshman — and then expect that freshman to learn and take care of that laptop?

School Reform: Obama, Idaho Style

President Obama has challenged the nation to prepare 100,000 new teachers in the next decade. Idaho schools superintendent Tom Luna’s education reform plan hinges upon cutting 770 teaching jobs over two years. I was struck by the contrast. And as the Legislature prepares for a defining debate over the future of its schools, I was struck by Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday night, and the time and focus the president devoted to education issues. Obama’s education agenda isn’t far removed from Idaho’s agenda. Obama touted his “Race to the Top” grant program; Luna sought money for Idaho, unsuccessfully/Kevin Richert, Idaho Statesman. More here.

Question: Would you rather have Barack Obama's style of school reform, or Tom Luna's?