[Vision2020] Ex-Governors Advocate New Education Laws

Tom Hansen thansen at moscow.com
Wed Jun 15 05:50:08 PDT 2011

Courtesy of today's (June 15, 2011) Moscow-Pullman News.


Ex-governors advocate for new law as petition places issue on the ballot
By Jessie L. Bonner Associated Press

BOISE - Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush visited Idaho on Tuesday to stump for
public schools chief Tom Luna's new education laws, saying similar changes
are being implemented across the country and critics working to repeal the
new laws should first wait for the results.

Bush addressed a technology task force that was formed as part of Luna's
new education changes, which eventually will arm every high school student
with a laptop while the state Board of Education considers making online
courses a requirement for them to graduate in Idaho.

Former West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise also addressed the group, which is
studying Idaho's implementation of the laptop program for high school
students. Bush and Wise launched the national campaign "Digital Learning
Now!" to promote policies that create more online learning opportunities
for students.

"All students are digital learners," Bush said. "You can ignore it if you
want, but particularly young people are totally immersed in the digital

Besides providing technology upgrades for public schools, Idaho's new
education laws will limit education union bargaining rights, introduce
teacher merit pay and shift money from salaries to classroom technology.

The state will also make student achievement half of a teacher's job
evaluation and ditch the "last hired, first fired" policy used in most
school districts across the country for laying off educators, which means
teachers with the most seniority will no longer be the last to go.

While Idaho has moved forward with implementation of Luna's changes, a
group of teachers and parents who want to repeal the new laws have
succeeded in their efforts to place three referendums on the November 2012
ballot. The group collected more than 74,000 signatures on each of their
three referendum petitions.

"I think they ought to wait to see the results rather than to let anxiety
and fear kind of drive policy. Results ought to drive policy," said Bush,
who was governor of Florida from 1999-2007 and like Luna, fought teachers'
unions as a part of his education reform efforts.

Opponents of the changes fear they will undermine teachers, increase class
sizes and shift state taxpayer money to for-profit, out-of-state companies
that will be tapped to provide online curriculum and laptops to students.

"Luna's laws are about turning our public schools into private profit
centers for education entrepreneurs - at the expense of taxpayers and our
children's education," said petition organizer Michael Lanza in a
statement Tuesday.

Since the start of the 2011 Idaho Legislature in January, Luna has argued
that Idaho's public education system is no longer sustainable and the
state needs to restructure how its scarce education dollars are spent.


Seeya round town, Moscow.

Tom Hansen.
Moscow, Idaho

"The Pessimist complains about the wind, the Optimist expects it to change
and the Realist adjusts his sails."

- Author Unknown

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