Here is a statement from Idaho Education President Sherri Wood in response to the full-page newspaper ads placed this Sunday and last by Idaho businessman Frank VanderSloot:
Frank VanderSloot continues to wage his one-man campaign against Idaho teachers, treating our children's education like a political football. He doesn't seem to realize that the Idaho Education Association isn't a few union bosses in Boise; it's an association of 13,000 people who teach Idaho's children. We are governed by a large volunteer board of directors and the decisions of about 500 teachers who attend the IEA Delegate Assembly each year.
VanderSloot's ad is riddled with distortions. For example, the ad implies that the IEA is against Pay for Performance. In fact, that is the one major part of Tom Luna's plan in which we had input. We have questions about its implementation and funding, but we support the concept. He writes that Idaho's education system has been “broken for decades,” even though it is the very system that Tom Luna praised last year as being a national leader for student achievement.
It's ironic and sad that one of America's wealthiest businessmen calls out IEA employees for our “lucrative salaries” and supposed political agenda. VanderSloot spends more on political action each year than any IEA employee – and any Idaho teacher or principal – makes. Our members know his record, and they know ours. We have nothing to fear.
My testimony this week before the Senate Education Committee will make it clear to all who truly listen that the IEA is not against needed change. I will also talk about Idaho's long history of collaboration on education issues. We have, all of us, created the system that is now in place for our children.
As strong public opposition to the Luna plan is showing, change cannot be imposed in a reckless, unilateral fashion. Where change is needed, we must all work together to discuss how it should look and make it happen. Our children deserve nothing less.