Last Friday, Idaho educators and parents gathered at the Statehouse to testify against the education overhaul proposed by Superintendent Tom Luna.
The week after next, we need to do it all over again, with more stories and more evidence about why the Luna plan is wrong for Idaho's children and schools.
Over the past 24 hours, we've learned that tomorrow – Thursday, January 27 – Mr. Luna is expected to post his draft legislation on the State Department of Education website. Word is he will introduce his package of ideas in two separate bills.
Next Monday – January 31 – a print hearing on the bills will be held to formally introduce them into the Senate Education Committee. But Chairman John Goedde (R-Coeur d'Alene) will wait a week after to that to begin what's expected to be four afternoons of hearings on the legislation.
The Senate Education Committee is the best chance to stop the Luna plan, or to change it. So our work these next two weeks may decide whether the Luna plan becomes law “as is.”
For now, here are the key dates to remember:
The Senate Education Committee will hear testimony on the legislation from 3 to 5 p.m. on Monday, February 7; Tuesday, February 8; and Wednesday, February 9. Testimony will continue from 3 to 4 p.m. on Thursday, February 10. From 4 to 5 that afternoon, the committee is currently expected to debate and vote on the bills.
So how do we prepare for this opportunity?
- We’ll post a link to the draft legislation as soon as it is posted on the SDE’s website later this week. Later this week and next, look for analysis on how the bills will affect our schools.
- Even if you've already contacted your state lawmakers, it's not too soon to begin communicating with members of the Senate Education Committee about how the Luna plan would affect real life in Idaho's classrooms. When contacting your legislator, always remember the four C’s of lobbying.
Be Courteous — Always be courteous, even if you and your legislator don’t see eye to eye on an issue. What’s most important is to keep the lines of communication alive.
Be Correct — Tell what you know but don’t embellish the facts with statistics or information you can’t back up. It is extremely important to use correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
Be Concise — Lawmakers are busy. Don’t be long-winded. On paper, stick to brief messages that focus on single topics. If there are several issues you wish to address, it’s best to write messages on each.
Be Constituency-Based — Zero in on what’s going on in your school or your district. Legislators are naturally most interested in what’s happening in their legislative district or geographic regions, as opposed to generalities.
- Mark your calendars and consider testifying to the Senate Education Committee during the hearings February 7-10.
- Watch the Hotline over the next two weeks for news of events across Idaho to learn more about the Luna plan and discuss it with your colleagues, legislators, and neighbors. Although time is short, we can work together to continue telling our stories about how the Luna plan is bad for Idaho's schools.