Tina Williams, science teacher at West Minico Middle School: Sees many challenges with Luna plan. Online classes have many difficulties: lack of instructor support, time zone differences, inability of teachers to help students deal with difficult situations with peers. Students love hands-on labs, but they need smaller classes, not larger ones.
Stephanie Archuleta, Caldwell Education President and sixth-grade teacher: Caldwell has highest unemployment rate of major Idaho cities. Students live in poverty, but they can overcome with the help of a teacher; she knows, because she did. “I don't know one teacher who is opposed to change … all parties need to be at the table.”
Lauren Peters, Hansen parent: Unlike many districts, Hansen couldn't pass levy. Music classes gone; no high school band will play “Pomp and Circumstance” as the Class of 2011 walks to the stage. “I understand money is tight, but when I heard plan to increase class sizes and boost online courses, I had to speak out.” Talented and smart students took online courses with many problems; only passed because math teacher gave them help during her prep period. Class had 50 percent dropout rate even among motivated students.
Debra Matthews, Hansen teacher on behalf of school board member Dave and parent volunteer Cindy Bjornberg, who couldn't come: Hansen reeling from cuts. Music and PE positions have been eliminated. Students need these opportunities to help build brain synapses. If the state's priority is truly students first, legislation would fund preschool and full-day kindergarten.
Danielle Ahrens from Boundary County, representing local Republican groups: Best education we can give our children is by being fiscally conservative. Applauds Luna plan. Recommended cutting research funds for Idaho colleges and universities; can do research privately. Can't afford levies. We need to make cuts and live within means.
Lucinda Mobius, Meridian: I love technology, but I've researched one-laptop-per-person programs and they don't work. Many districts are dropping them. Who will monitor students' computer use? Schools would be better served by installing whiteboards, computers in classroom. Teachers work hard to teach every student. Look for signs of abuse, whether kids have eaten, etc. Computers can't do this. Need new desks, fewer standardized tests, not laptops.
Steven Adams, Sugar City, charter school advocate: Provide funding for diversity of quality education opportunities. Online education does work. Smaller class sizes one of least effective ways to improve student learning.
Korrin Rue, Borah High government teacher in Boise; Our students do not need to be brought into 21st century; our leaders do. Students already have tremendous access to technology that students and teachers use together. Larger class sizes won't help. Spend the money to enrich tech programs we already have, and spend the money on teachers. Do you want to spend money on programs that takes teachers away from kids?
Meghan Ridley, special ed teacher, Lakeland: Cuts have left a mark on student opportunities, educators' spirits. Instead of bringing everyone together, Mr Luna has forged ahead alone with a plan that increases class sizes, replaces teachers with laptops, and bases performance on standardized tests. Could thousands of educators be wrong about a career to which they've dedicated their lives?