What next for ed reform? - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

What next for ed reform?

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Posted: Thursday, November 8, 2012 12:21 am

COEUR d'ALENE - Now that Idaho voters have given Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna's education reform initiatives the boot, what's next?

Top administrators from Kootenai County's three largest school districts say it's unclear, while teachers say they're eager to move forward toward finding reform solutions that will increase teacher effectiveness and improve student outcomes.

"At this point, we have not received any direction from the state on any of this," said Coeur d'Alene Superintendent Hazel Bauman.

Bauman said the Idaho School Boards Association is advising districts to refrain from making any decisions before Nov. 21, the date the election results will be certified and the so-called Students Come First laws are officially repealed.

"We will endeavor to work collaboratively with the various constituent groups to interpret and implement the new laws of the land," Bauman said.

The education reforms on Tuesday's ballot were split into three propositions mirroring the legislation passed into law in 2011. An initiative tied to a plan to spend $182 million on laptops for all high school students fared the worst, with just a third of Idaho voters in favor of keeping that legislation in place. Voters also rejected a law that limits teachers' collective bargaining rights, and legislation that institutes a bonus pay plan for teachers.

"I understand Idahoans have expressed concerns, yet I do not believe any Idahoan wants to go back to the status quo system we had two years ago," wrote Luna, in a prepared statement released Wednesday. "I am as committed as anyone to finding a way to make this happen. We must find a way because our children's future is at stake."

Carrie Scozzaro, an art teacher at Timberlake High School in Spirit Lake and past president of the Lakeland Education Association, that district's local arm of the teachers union, told The Press she would like to see students, teachers, administrators, parents, community leaders and the Legislature work together to find an effective way to move ahead.

"I don't think voters disagreed with the ideas behind the Propositions - keeping up with technology, retooling education finance, transparency and accountability - just the manner in which they were developed and the punitive, and in some cases, poorly planned context in which they were being implemented," Scozzaro said.

Tim Sanford, a music teacher at Lake City High School in Coeur d'Alene, is on an Education Excellence Task Force set up earlier this year by the Idaho Education Association, the state teachers union. The purpose of the panel of mainly current classroom teachers is to identify critical education priorities and recommend solutions that will strengthen teacher effectiveness and improve student learning.

"We know there are reforms needed. That was never the issue," Sanford said. "Students Come First was just not the right one."

The task force is in place, Sanford said, so teachers will be prepared to work with members of the Legislature and Luna "to come up with a reform that works to benefit the children of the state."

"We really need to satisfy those differences, because that's what we're here to do," Sanford said.

John Miller of the Associated Press reported Wednesday that the campaigns run by those favoring and opposing the education reforms were among the costliest ever seen in Idaho.

The National Education Association and its state affiliate spent about $4 million to defeat the measures, Miller reported, while Frank VanderSloot, owner of the Idaho Falls-based Melaleuca Inc., pumped about $1.5 million into the campaign to keep the education initiatives in place.

"Unfortunately, I think the Legislature and State Board of Education still see this (the election outcome) as a union thing, not realizing that non-union teachers, along with more than 60 percent of Idahoans voted against this," said Scozzaro. "I also expect there will be retaliatory legislation continuing in the vein of what we have already experienced and that won't change much until there's a wholesale, statewide change of culture."

In Kootenai County, 32,523 voters, 56 percent, rejected Proposition 1, related to teacher contracts and collective bargaining. Proposition 2, tied to merit pay, failed with 32,506 "no" votes, 55 percent. The laptop and online learning mandate legislation, Proposition 3, was rejected by 65 percent of voters.

Statewide, the measures were defeated by slightly higher margins.

Scozzaro said that no matter what happens next, school districts and teachers will continue doing their best to teach and take care of kids "regardless of the fallout."

"I would say that the biggest mistake that could be made moving forward would be for either side to misread what just happened," said Tom Taggart, business and operations manager for the Lakeland School District. "This is a time for all parties to come together and work on reforms with input from all groups."

Taggart noted that the election numbers reflect "bipartisan rejection" statewide, with many conservative voters casting votes for conservative candidates, and also voting no on the propositions.

"That isn't because of outside union money. That is because they disagreed with what the laws proposed," Taggart said.

The most pressing issue for school districts is the upcoming distribution of pay-for-performance bonuses mandated by the legislation. Districts are set to receive the merit pay funds from the state on Nov. 15 and distribute them to teachers on Dec. 15.

Post Falls Superintendent Jerry Keane said it's unclear whether school districts have the authority to actually distribute the money after Nov. 21, when the laws are expected to be officially null and void.

Last week, Luna told school district administrators and members of the media that the state department of education has been working with the attorney general's office for several months, and they are waiting for an official opinion on the legality of the merit pay distribution.

School officials from all three districts said it's unclear what impact the repeal of the legislation will have on negotiated teacher contracts.

"A great deal will depend on what the Legislature does next session," Taggart said.

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  • concernedcitizen posted at 6:30 am on Mon, Nov 12, 2012.

    concernedcitizen Posts: 2530



    I've been saying this for years. We make excuses for little jonny to be the way he is instead of holding him to a higher standard. Stand up to the parents and make sure THEY know what is and is not acceptable. If they do not like it, THEY can "choose" another school.

  • TWolf22 posted at 1:14 pm on Sat, Nov 10, 2012.

    TWolf22 Posts: 63

    Rationale hit the nail on the head. The number one problem that needs to be addressed and reformed is the parental accountability and responsibility for the effort and behavior of their child. Laws need to be crafted that tie parental accountability for the effort and behavior of their child in with the child neglect laws. It is child neglect for a parent not to ensure that their child goes to school prepared for class; is not disruptive and/or disrespectful, and give his or her best effort.
    Too many kids are willful failures and disrupt the learning environment of those kids who do want to learn. Why doesn't Luna and the legislature force a law down our throats that requires the following: If a child does not come to class prepared (having books, paper and pencil, homework, etc...) or is disruptive and/or disrespectful, or does not try his or her best on assignments and tests, the parents are called to come and pick up the child for the day. The child can return the next day, but if it happens again, the parent gets called again, and everytime until the child gets the message. If the parent does not come and get the child, law enforcement is called and a child neglect report is taken.
    How long do you think that it would take before most parents would impress upon their child that the child had better get with the program, because mommy and daddy will lose their job if they have to continually be called to pick up Tommy or Susie. If the parents are receiving welfare, etc.... hold back on those payments. If you force parents to be accountable for their children, the majority of the problems in public education would disappear.
    Why do you think private and charter schools are so successful? Because parents are involved, accountable, and responsible for the effort and behavior of their children.

  • Ybother posted at 8:57 pm on Thu, Nov 8, 2012.

    Ybother Posts: 501

    All of the teachers who were on the fence deciding wether or not to join the union probably are IEA members now. Here is an idea for legislators: Quit vilifying teachers because the public is not buying it. We love our teachers, and I have been very satisfied with every teacher my children have had. Infact, where are all of these "lazy union" teachers? Tom, Bob, Goedde? If the legislator would give teachers the respect they deserve, it would reduce union membership, and it would win over many of our conservative teachers, as well. Unfortunately, Tom Luna's arrogant dismissal of the voter's will quoted in yest. paper tells me that he is going to stop at nothing to put that feather in his cap. I just wonder if he is arrogant enough to think that his position is more stable than Props 1,2, and 3 were?
    I think an appology from Tommy boy is warranted for his blatant disregard for Idaho's vote.

  • carol posted at 6:00 pm on Thu, Nov 8, 2012.

    carol Posts: 636

    Obama ran on implementing single payer health care in this country. He won in a landslide in 08. So stop saying that it is being forced down the majorities throat. Most Americans voted him in both times and they want single payer. You live in an insulated bubble with only one source of "news". Get out in the world a little more and you will see the most people are concerned for others(as the Bible states we all should be). Peace and Love

  • Lost Faculty posted at 3:15 pm on Thu, Nov 8, 2012.

    Lost Faculty Posts: 2

    Well, the voters at least said. "we don't like the Republican bully agenda any more than the republican bullies like the IEA. I'd like to take a quick trip down memory lane... local teachers and law makers met in a town-hall meeting at LCHS library the year that iSTARS was first proposed. (iSTARS was the pre-curser to the "Students Come First" laws.) Rep. Nonini told the assembly, "Well, it's a political reality, we have the votes, and we're going to (write punitive legislation that is poorly thought out but that is clearly and aggressively anti-teacher union)."

    Basically, our neighbors continually elect representatives who resent our profession. Sen. Goedde said, "99% of you are great. ...but it costs too much to fire you." So they continued on their path and barely even feined interest in what the IEA could have contributed.

    Well Nonini and Goedde finally got a taste of their own philosophy. The votes can't be denied, and they now need to take the clue and actually include the profession if they want to truly reform. There's a political reality for you. If they fail to include the IEA, and the committee referenced in the article that Tim Sanford sits on, then they are just ignoring the Idaho voters. Yes, the IEA had to have it's hand forced here, but now the IEA has forced the legislature's hand as well. Failure to work together will lead to further failed policy.

    Best case scenario: Real positive change, bi-partisan input could be valued by the legislature, and Nonini and Goedde get fired next vote for wasting 4 years of taxpayer funds and time on union-busting the IEA.

  • Rationale posted at 2:15 pm on Thu, Nov 8, 2012.

    Rationale Posts: 1976

    Here's a thought: stop getting caught up in the "buzzword" flavor of the month "reform." Wow...reform! Sounds great...everything's broken, so let's make reactive, radical changes, because surely those will fix everything.

    Now let's look at reality: Kids face more challenges now than ever before...and at younger ages. Schools have stopped focusing on education and spend more time being day-care providers, social workers, and counselors. Why aren't our kids learning? Well, the 2 most important factors are actually HOME/FAMILY and politics! Broken homes, druggie parents, and parents who despise teachers and education combined with politics and federal money, and you have the complete destruction of our educational system!

    Here's a reality check: everybody wants individual attention for public school students, but it can't be done. Kids learn at different paces. Not all kids are Rhodes Scholars! Some only have the capacity to become master's of a trade and not PhD's. Is it a teacher's fault when a student's brain develops slower than his/her peers? Biology is not something that can be altered.

    Of course, then there's the elephant in the room: students who don't want to learn...WON'T! Forcing subjects on students under the guise of making them "well rounded" does not make them learn more.

    Only 2 classes should be mandatory: English and Math. They go hand-in-hand. English is the critical thinking skills, and Math is using logic.

    How about when the kids are in elementary school, we discover their interests and hobbies. Then let the students take classes that support their interests. If a student has a vested interest in something, he/she WILL learn! If at a young age a student shows great math skills, then encourage them to take math and science classes. If a student is artistic, direct them towards art/humanities. And if a student shows a lack of academic aptitude, see what they like to do...build things, fix things...

    If a student changes their mind along the way, LET THEM EXPLORE.

    But this cookie cutter, assembly line methodology of forcing a kid who loves math to take art because it will somehow broaden him/her is worthless. If that math student wants to take art, then great, let them take art. But forcing them to do so does not mean they will learn. In fact, it breeds apathy, and the student will most likely not learn!

    Now THAT is a reform suggestion. It's not perfect, and will have detractors. But it isn't based on asinine multiple-guess tests, and can be used as a foundation on which to build!

  • Rationale posted at 1:56 pm on Thu, Nov 8, 2012.

    Rationale Posts: 1976

    So, tater,

    Exactly how do you justify your remark to teachers who are Republican, not members of the union, and who voted against the reform?

  • tracy644 posted at 12:24 pm on Thu, Nov 8, 2012.

    tracy644 Posts: 22

    Before you start complaining about why they failed, do the simple math of-
    If all the Republicans would have voted for it, it would have passed-- so it was not just Democrats.
    If all the non-union workers in the state would have voted for it, it would have passed so it is not just the union thugs.
    If all the non-teachers would have voted for it, it would have passed so it is not just the teachers ganging up so they could be lazy.
    With that said, obviously the people of Idaho didn't like it. Everybody in the state should be happy because it was the people who got to decide and it wasn't just forced on us by the government.
    Democrats need to realize something also--- You asked the people of Idaho for the chance for everybody to vote on it, the people gave you that option and the laws were voted down by the people. The same needs to apply to things like Obamacare and other liberal agenda items. Don't agree that it is ok that the president forces these things on us, demand that the people have their say, just like on the Luna laws-- Deal?????

  • SamuelStanding posted at 11:16 am on Thu, Nov 8, 2012.

    SamuelStanding Posts: 608

    @ BACKWOODS Thank you for your service to this country and to our children. You are a GREAT role model. I would hope that your deployment salary would be more like three or four times the teacher or any other home/base salary.
    Next, I agree with the term limits and removing both Otter and Luna. They have served their purpose for the PAST years. Idaho needs to move forward, technology will be a part of if as well as working our students towards careers fit for their education. We need to stop DUMMYING DOWN! Not everyone will go on to be doctors, have MBA's, etc. But we do not need to make excuses, we need a better way to connect and educate. Jobs and a market for non-college bound students will be a big part of this. Not everyone has to flip burgers, nor does everyone need to design rockets for outer space. The generations before us delt with finance struggles and still built an AMAZING country. Our infrastructure is failing. We need to rebuild roads, waste treatment systems and a better electrical grid. This will take laborers and engineering talent as well as CRITICAL THINKERS who can organinze and rally all working people. Idaho could be a wonderful model for the rest of the country if better leadership (remove Otter, et al) is set in place. Maybe a business leader would be a better individual to rally behind?

  • imisscda posted at 11:01 am on Thu, Nov 8, 2012.

    imisscda Posts: 108

    A "No" vote on propositions 1, 2, and 3 is a good start, but until Idaho wakes up and votes out the legislators who passed Luna's plan in the first place, education in Idaho will continue to be severely underfunded and low on the State's priority list.

  • Screen Name posted at 10:23 am on Thu, Nov 8, 2012.

    Screen Name Posts: 965

    Hey Idahotater, I gots me another thing that will never change to add to your list - Most folks don't know their history:

    The "union" was formed by a Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction - March 3, 1892 : The IEA is born when State Superintendent of Public Instruction Judge J.E. Harroun gathers four other men in his office and they pass a motion “that a call be issued by the State Supt. to the teachers of the State to convene and organize a permanent association.”

    The "union" was formed by a Republican - surely you don't want to get rid of a Republican formed entity?

  • backwoods posted at 10:23 am on Thu, Nov 8, 2012.

    backwoods Posts: 1

    Interesting discussion. As a teacher of 29 years and oh gasp, a non union teacher to boot. These were just bad laws. I agree that there needs to be change and reform, but these bills did nothing to set our students up for success. We need a total paradigm shift with regards to education. Our bright students need to be sufficiently challenged-similar to the CDA Charter model. Our middle of the road and lower students do not need additional math and science added to a curriculum in which they are already struggling. They need to be able to read, write, and have job specific math skills with internship and apprenticeship opportunities available prior to their senior year. K tech is a step in the right direction, but only serves a small percentage of the student population. In order to do this business and industry and the whole educational community need to get together. Employers know what they want, I feel they need more voice. I am very concerned for our youth and their ability to be competitive post high school. This will probably be my last year in education as I am being deployed to Afghanistan next year-oh yeah at more than double my teacher salary...

  • crust123 posted at 10:14 am on Thu, Nov 8, 2012.

    crust123 Posts: 217

    lola, surely you can do better than reverting to name calling and childish associations. why dont you do something useful and look up exactly how much out of state and in state unions contributed to the NO campaign in idaho. whether you are for or against, there is no debating that fact. unlikely you will do that, as name calling is so much easier.

  • Sheeken Hunter posted at 9:06 am on Thu, Nov 8, 2012.

    Sheeken Hunter Posts: 183

    Yesterday the Cda Press quoted Senator John Goedde--"So many facts were misrepresented in ads and so much money was spent statewide by out of state interests that I can understand the numbers,"

    In 2002, Goedde and the Idaho Legislature repealed the Term Limits Initiative passed by Idaho voters. The lawmakers voting to repeal said the term limits proponents had been dishonest in their campaign to impose term limits, and that voters didn't get fair information. I can't wait to see what Goedde does this time. I hope he does quit the Ed Committe and take his crayons to Commerce/HR Committee.

  • harrisonguy posted at 9:03 am on Thu, Nov 8, 2012.

    harrisonguy Posts: 14

    Oh Taterguy...just another teacher hater.
    Please tell all of us online philosophers the last time you heard teachers complain about their pay? They complained about the bonus pay because it was all or nothing for an individual building.
    I know a ton of teachers and haven't heard any complain about their pay. Have you every complained about your pay during your lifetime? I'm sure you haven't because you are perfectly content in life. Watch out bud, the union black choppers are coming for you. Run to your cave and dig in!!

  • wilbur posted at 8:42 am on Thu, Nov 8, 2012.

    wilbur Posts: 142

    It's quite comical to see the poor losers who shout "it was the union thugs" that shot done some idiotic ideas from a couple of goons (otter, luna) . I guess the will of the people should be ignored? It probably will be in the next legislative session since the other goons were reelected

  • lola123 posted at 8:31 am on Thu, Nov 8, 2012.

    lola123 Posts: 349

    mr d you are 100% correct. Everyone I talked to said exatly the same thing. As for mr or ms crusty's opinions they are always so far right they are part of the lunatic fringe (no pun indended).
    Are you and Jeffery lovers in Athol?

    Out with Luna and Otter!

  • idahotater posted at 8:28 am on Thu, Nov 8, 2012.

    idahotater Posts: 54

    Well we know 2 things will never change. 1 The first thing teachers will learn: ALWAYS complain about your wages, that you don't make enough for educating todays youth and 2 The big ole union will swamp the air waves and print with any amount of ads necessary to keep their control. I say get a Governer who will bust the union. Then we can have reform.

  • mister d posted at 7:32 am on Thu, Nov 8, 2012.

    mister d Posts: 1531

    These props were just bad legislation from the beginning with bad legislatures shoving them down the publics throat with no intent of making education better for children. It was union busting pure and simple. The majority of the public saw through it and all across the state people indicated the kids were more of a priority. Now maybe we can get back to the job of educating children and letting the true experts have some input. Of course it goes without saying, Luna needs to go.

  • crust123 posted at 7:31 am on Thu, Nov 8, 2012.

    crust123 Posts: 217

    so then, if meaningful reform only takes place when not politically motivated, we will likely never see reform. i think i agree with you. those in power are clearly incapable of doing whats right absent the politics.

  • Flash Gordon posted at 7:14 am on Thu, Nov 8, 2012.

    Flash Gordon Posts: 1647

    The 3 "initiatives" failed because Idaho voters, mostly republican, recognized they were not reforms at all. Meaningful reform only takes place when initiatives are not politically motivated and reflect a true interest in those who are being educated.....it's very simple, really.

  • 986crazy posted at 7:12 am on Thu, Nov 8, 2012.

    986crazy Posts: 434

    Now that the laws have been repealed, let's do the same for the lawmakers who voted in this ludicrous plan to begin with. They are so out of touch with the populous, THEY need to go.

  • Rationale posted at 6:48 am on Thu, Nov 8, 2012.

    Rationale Posts: 1976

    Uh, I'm considered right wing, and I voted no on all 3 propositions.

  • crust123 posted at 6:45 am on Thu, Nov 8, 2012.

    crust123 Posts: 217

    Paint me in whatever fashion that make you feels best vox. now go pay your union dues and praise your leader obama. lets hope next four years are as productive as the last four eh? With O in charge, and no jobs, it may not matter that the education system is in a downward spiral. pull your head out of the sand. my friend

  • voxpop posted at 5:44 am on Thu, Nov 8, 2012.

    voxpop Posts: 738

    Your comment Crust123 makes perfect sense. It's just more of the same Athol-based off the charts right wing mumbo jumbo. It's not education that been dumbed-down it's people like you - and parents whose only concern for the schools is that their free daycare continues unabated. On the whole teachers put more heart and soul into the lives and future of our kids than many parents. And the ratio continues to increase. Happily however, as evidenced by this vote, it's yet to become a majority.

  • crust123 posted at 5:28 am on Thu, Nov 8, 2012.

    crust123 Posts: 217

    jmow, i have no idea what your comment is supposed to be saying??

    i will keep mine real simple. i suppose this was a "win" for the teachers, but without question it was a win for the unions who financed the no campaign and it was another loss for our students, who will continue to get further dumbed down, while our fearless leader continues to espouse his love and dedication to education. too bad.

  • jmowreader posted at 3:35 am on Thu, Nov 8, 2012.

    jmowreader Posts: 1482

    First: if this is so critical, find new money to pay for it. We already expect teachers to buy their own Construction paper and other classroom supplies; demanding they buy their own bonuses is black comedy.

    Next, redesign the merit pay system to examine the whole student, not just test-taking ability. Some places require the student prepare a portfolio of work, and that will serve.

    If Idaho wants to do something with the legislature's time, they can regulate a not-regulated-but-should-be industry, the tattoo industry. If you want to give someone a haircut for money you need to attend school 2000 hours - most in the nation. To give simeone a tattoo you need the money for a business license anda tattoo.machine

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