Idaho educators and parents will be watching closely Wednesday morning as State Supt. Tom Luna reveals the details of the education overhaul that he and Gov. Butch Otter hinted at Monday. But these excerpts from the governor’s State of the State address and from news reports give some indication of what we may hear tomorrow. We’ve highlighted some passages for emphasis.
From Gov. Otter’s State of the State address:
So while my budget recommendation does call for a little more state support for public schools, it also includes significant, targeted investments in our children’s future – investments like a third year of math and science in high school, and paying for all Idaho juniors to take college entrance exams. Those investments are part of important changes that Superintendent Luna and I are proposing in the way our public schools do their jobs. … It will mean a fundamental shift in emphasis from the adults who oversee the process and administration to the best interests of our students. Our priorities need to be refocused from how much we’re spending to how much our children are learning.
From Dan Popkey in theIdaho Statesman:
Re-election behind them, the two have quietly designed reforms to school finance, teacher tenure, digital learning and measurement of student performance that Luna said aim at setting national and world standards.
And they appear ready to carry them out without any additional money for public schools.
The chairmen of the education committees said the plan is a very big deal.
“All I can say is it’s exciting things,” said House Education Committee Chairman Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene. “It’s cultural changes in education that I think are needed.”
“I’d characterize it as a major paradigm shift,” said Senate Education Committee Chairman John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene.
(Popkey writes:) Privately, I was told the plan would eliminate tenure for newly hired teachers and shift about one-quarter of the money earmarked for classroom support to merit pay, technology and testing.
Luna told reporters to be patient until Wednesday, but he didn’t deflate expectations.
“It’s a comprehensive change in the way that we spend the money that we have, the way that we manage the human capital that we have, and the way we deliver content,” he said.
“You’ll see how all the pieces of the puzzle fit together, and we’ll have a system that can teach more kids at a higher level with limited resources. Pay for performance is just part of that.”
From Brad Iverson-Long at IdahoReporter.com:
Gov. Butch Otter and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna are tight-lipped about a comprehensive reform plan for Idaho public schools, a plan that could include merit pay for teachers, expanded technology efforts and new accountability and tracking measures for students.
Luna and Otter will make the plan public on Wednesday, though it’s already facing scrutiny from the state’s main teachers’ organization and some lawmakers concerned about starting a new program during a tight budget year.
Luna proposed a $60 million merit pay plan in 2008 that the Legislature didn’t approve. On his blog, Luna recently praised a similar pay-for-performance plan approved in Florida. He said Monday that his comprehensive reform will include proposals already at work in other states.
From Eye on Boise:
Luna: “This is a very comprehensive plan. It's far greater and it touches far more bases in education than just pay for performance. We can teach more kids at a higher level with limited resources and pay for performance is just part of that.”
He said, “Basically we have three choices: We, we can continue to cannibalize the system that we currently have, which means more furlough days, less instruction time for students who struggle, no money for technology … that's the first option. Second option is we can raise taxes so that we can fund the current system that quite frankly nobody has been satisfied with the results that we've been getting from the current system. Or you can change the system to a system that is student-centered and focuses on teaching more kids at a higher level.” He said, “Those details will be coming out Wednesday morning.”
Otter said, “I totally agree with Tom – we've got three options and I like the final option the best.”
From the Spokesman-Review:
Otter also declared he’s strongly in support of a yet-to-be-unveiled school reform plan that state Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna plans to announce on Wednesday, which will include performance pay for teachers.
“Excellence should be rewarded,” Otter told lawmakers, who responded with applause.
However, Luna’s last performance-pay proposal two years ago carried a price tag in the tens of millions a year; Otter’s budget has virtually no increase in school funding to pay for such a plan.
“It’s a comprehensive change in the way we spend the money we have,” Luna said.
House Minority Leader John Rusche, D-Lewiston, decried Otter’s budget approach as “the dance of the seven veils.” He said, “I predict that there will be more (school) districts going out to the property taxpayer to ask for money, because they still have the kids and they still have the job to educate them.”