In the three weeks since Tom Luna rolled out his so-called “Students Come First” plan, IEA leaders and staff members have been hearing one question over and over, from members and the media.
When will the IEA propose its own plan to reform education?
The answer is: We won’t, at least not unilaterally.
Mr. Luna has proposed a sweeping plan, apparently cooked up over Christmas break, since he never made mention of it during the campaign last fall. It is long on lofty rhetoric and short on financial and logistical details. If the IEA introduced a half-baked plan, Luna’s backers would shoot it down just as surely as we are working to fight Luna’s ill-conceived proposals. The only long-term solution is having everyone sit down and do the messy work of collaboration on a plan that will truly put children first.
This Super Bowl weekend, let’s remember that education should not be a political football. Whatever changes are needed, they should be discussed in a thoughtful, thorough, and probably lengthy process that brings all players to the table. (We understand, for example, that for its vaunted – and voluntary – laptop program, the state of Maine brought together an 18-member panel to meet eight times over four months.)
The IEA is not opposed to change; we’ve helped create it. Our association helped develop Idaho’s content standards, charter school law, and the Idaho Reading Initiative. We even helped write legislation that would have streamlined the dismissal of ineffective teachers; establish alternative pay measures that take teacher evaluations into account; and lessened due-process rights for new teachers in exchange for mentoring, peer assistance, and professional development. The IEA also encourages educators to consider certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and 368 Idaho educators have done so.
Mr. Luna's plan is an ideologically motivated response to the current budget crisis. It's the work of someone who has never taught in a classroom and has little idea what Idaho teachers and children do every day. Idaho educators, children, and parents, by contrast, continue to do more with less – $200 million less over the past two years.
As we said at the beginning of this debate less than a month ago, Idaho cannot afford – in this time of economic recovery – to upend its educational system for a radical, unproven program with uncountable hidden costs. The Idaho Education Association plan – and that of our 13,000 members – is to stay the course and continue putting Idaho students first every day, as we always have.
Thanks for all you do!
A few additional notes:
Please remember that the Senate Education Committee will hold its hearings on the Luna bills next week. Superintendent Luna will present the bills and major stakeholders including the IEA will testify on Monday, February 7. The meeting starts at 3 p.m.
Tuesday through Thursday (February 8-10), public testimony on the bills will be taken in the Capitol Auditorium starting at 3 p.m., but sign-up sheets for people wishing to speak (three minutes maximum) will be posted outside the auditorium starting at 2 p.m. You can also email your lawmakers and ask them to vote against the Luna bills.
Many community events are taking place around the Luna plan, organized by a wide range of local education associations, school districts, PTOs, legislators, and more. As a public service, we have the full list of events we've heard of on our website, but these listings do not necessarily imply endorsement by the IEA.