Tomorrow morning –Tuesday, January 18 – State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna will be back at the Statehouse to tell the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee as well as the House and Senate Education Committees how he plans to pay for the overhaul he proposed last week. Hotline will be there, and we’ll share what we hear.
The session will be in the Capitol Auditorium (Room WW02) on the Garden Level of the Statehouse’s west wing. It will start at 8 a.m. Mountain/7 a.m. Pacific with the presentation of public school budget documents. Mr. Luna is set to make his budget request starting at 9:30 a.m. Mountain/8:30 Pacific. The meeting will be shown online at Idaho Public Television’s Legislature Live website. Click on the “Auditorium” link.
The other landmark day this week is Friday, January 21, when JFAC will hold its first-ever public hearing on education funding. If you plan to testify on Friday, please:
- Get there early. The hearing starts at 8 a.m. Friday. It's also in the Capitol Auditorium.
- Sign in to speak if you’d like to give spoken testimony. The limit is 3 minutes per person.
- Written testimony will be taken, too. Whether you hope to speak or not, bring two hard copies of your testimony: one for the committee and another for the IEA. And because the Hotline will be live-blogging the hearing on Friday, please email us a copy of your testimony so we can share excerpts.
Many teachers will be in school Friday, so it’s especially important for parents, grandparents, and others to talk with teachers and share their stories, as well as their personal anecdotes of how large class sizes have an adverse impact on children.
Speaking of class sizes, many parents and teachers have been offering a “reality check” about actual Idaho class sizes on the new Idaho Parents and Teachers Together Facebook page, now more than 600 people strong after only four days. If you use Facebook, please add your numbers and share your stories, too. Click here.
Mr. Luna’s plans have been in the headlines all across Idaho over the long holiday weekend. Here are a few links:
The 20-minute “web extra” portion of Idaho Public Television’s weekly Idaho Reports show focused on the proposed overhaul. Hear some of the state’s top pundits and reporters discuss Mr. Luna’s plans in juicy detail.
The Idaho Reporter site featured an extended interview with IEA President Sherri Wood, including video clips of her talking about class sizes, tenure, accountability, open negotiations, and more. But today, Wayne Hoffman – who funds the site – told a Tea Party rally on the Statehouse steps that “It's time to pull the plug on the state teachers' union being a part of the private-public state employees retirement system.”
Nampa teachers Leslie and Lucas Younger were interviewed by KBOI-TV and expressed serious misgivings with Mr. Luna’s plans.
In editorials, the Idaho Statesman and the Lewiston Tribune (subscribers only) questioned whether Mr. Luna can claim a mandate for his plan when he did not detail it on the campaign trail last fall. The Statesman editorialists also said, “After spending 90 minutes interviewing Luna Friday, we don’t know enough to endorse the plan wholeheartedly. But we’re intrigued enough that we want to learn more. We urge parents, teachers, school administrators, business leaders and legislators to keep an open mind. Very few political decisions have generational impact. This one will.”
The Tribune poked holes in Luna’s claims that larger class sizes won’t harm education, challenging Luna to “tell that to the junior high teacher with 30 students who must choose between spending the next night or two critiquing essay exams that force a kid to think, or resorting to an easy-to-grade multiple-guess test that does not.”