This is a statement from Idaho Education Association President Sherri Wood following the conclusion of public testimony on Superintendent Tom Luna’s proposed education overhaul:
The Senate Education Committee today returned Superintendent Tom Luna’s education bills for what Chairman John Goedde (R-Coeur d’Alene) called “small corrections.” The committee expects to have new legislation back early next week.
Based on the overwhelming public opposition against the Luna plan, we’re not surprised at this turn of events. But it sounds like lawmakers have sent the bills back for an oil change when they really need a new transmission. The corrections needed to this bill are not small by any means, and it’s unlikely that they can be made over a weekend.
What’s more, by rewriting these bills over a few days, it’s clear that Mr. Luna will not have the input and buy-in from educators that he’s been missing all along. And if the provisions of the less-discussed bill – Senate Bill 1068 – remain intact, how can he expect Idaho educators to soldier on in the face of additional budget cuts and attacks on longstanding Idaho teacher contract law?
Today was the first day that the Senate Education Committee was truly able to hear the breadth and depth of problems with the Luna plan, largely from educators and students that would be most directly affected by the plan. Earlier in the week, the committee used a pro-con-repeat order. Because opponents outnumbered supporters by a wide margin, it meant that many opponents were unable to speak while each and every backer of the bill was heard.
Today, however, the list of plan backers was exhausted midway through the day's testimony, so far more people were able to speak to potential problems that the bills would bring into Idaho’s schools. We are gratified that Sen. Goedde and his committee took the time to hear every speaker who stayed to testify today. As a result, the lawmakers will be much better able to evaluate whatever legislation Mr. Luna brings back next week.
Relentless pressure from Idaho educators, parents, and students has forced Mr. Luna to go back to the drawing board with these bills. It’s past time for him to seek input from the people who spend their days in Idaho’s classrooms and their nights and weekends grading papers and attending school events. As we’ve said many times this week, you can’t put students first if you put teachers last.