Idaho Legislators Finally Doing the Right Thing
BOISE, ID--If Idaho legislators pass Senator Dean Cameron’s bill to restore the $19.4 million dollars to be taken this year from teacher salaries to fund the Students Come First laws it will begin to undo some of the damage State Superintendent Tom Luna’s proposals have done to Idaho’s schools. While this is a positive step, it does little to offset the negative effect of Luna’s ill-advised and hastily developed Student Comes First mandate. Fortunately, citizens will have opportunity at the November referendum vote to set aside all three of the so-called “Students Come First” laws. The SCF laws have three primary problems:
Virtually all of Luna’s ‘reform’ efforts are contrary to both research and proven practice. No study definitively connects the use of laptops or taking of online classes to higher academic performance, and recent analysis of schools run by K12, Inc., whose schools 3/5 Idaho online students are enrolled in, reveals that only about a third of their online schools meet standards.
The primary beneficiaries of the Students Come First proposals are out-of-state, for-profit educational management organizations (EMO’s) like K12, Inc., whose enrollment and profits will substantially increase as a result of the online requirements. While out of state EMO’s will see their profits rise, the cost to Idaho taxpayers will be increased class-sizes and fund reductions for local school districts.
Luna’s proposals, which have no relation to actual instructional improvement or student learning, are costly. Last year, $14.8 million or 1.67% of the education operation fund was shifted to pay for his plan; the cost this year is $19.4 million at 4% of the operation fund. The projected cost to the general school operation fund continues to increase through 2016 and then hold steady at reducing the fund at 5.74%, over $25 million annually. The additional cost of required online courses will further dilute state support for local schools.
The increased class sizes and staff reductions seen in the 2011-2012 school year are a result of these reductions and are politically unpalatable, which is why Luna and many of the legislators who supported SCF are now seeking to “back-fill” the $19.4 million this year.
Idaho stands at or near the bottom of the states in every funding category, and Idaho’s local districts, due to the reduction in state support, are now forced to float override levies. Apparently pre-occupied with his supposed ‘reform’ efforts, Luna has shown no interest in advocating increased local school support nor has he endorsed local override levies.
While it is good that our legislators may finally begin to undo the damage Luna has done, it would have been better if they had heeded the outcry of the public and of professional educators in the first place.
For additional information see: common sense democracy foundation.org
or Contact: Travis Manning, Executive Director