Two views on ed reform - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Two views on ed reform

Propositions 1, 2 and 3 appear on Nov. 6 ballot

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Posted: Saturday, October 13, 2012 12:00 am

COEUR d'ALENE - There was a lot of talk in Coeur d'Alene this week about the education reform referendums that Idaho voters will consider on Nov. 6.

Former state superintendent of public instruction Marilyn Howard spoke to about 70 people Monday evening at the Greenbriar Inn, an event hosted by Womenspeak North Idaho.

On Friday, Idaho first lady Lori Otter spoke to a crowd of several hundred who attended the Kootenai County Republican Women Federated's Women in Red luncheon at the Best Western Coeur d'Alene Inn.

The referendums - Propositions 1, 2 and 3 - seek to repeal the comprehensive package of education reforms passed into state law following legislative approval in 2011. The so-called Students Come First laws limit the bargaining powers of teachers unions, require contract negotiations be held in public, call for merit pay for teachers, advances in technology including laptops for all high school students and teachers, and make online course credit a high school graduation requirement.

Otter, whose husband Gov. Butch Otter worked with Idaho schools chief Tom Luna to develop and promote the education reform laws, and Howard, Luna's predecessor, see things very differently when it comes to the referendums.

"There's nothing in these laws that as a teacher in a building, that I disagree with," Otter said to the Republican group on Friday.

Otter taught health and physical education and coached basketball and volleyball at the middle and high school levels for 12 years. She earned a master's degree in 2004 and worked for two years as an elementary principal in the Meridian School District.

She has been touring the state in recent weeks, meeting with various groups to talk about her support for keeping the education reform laws in place. She also did a radio spot for the Yes for Idaho Education campaign.

Otter said she's not out speaking for the reforms to tout her husband's position. She said she's doing it because she's an educator who personally believes strongly that the reforms are needed. Prop 1 phases out teacher tenure and limits negotiated agreements between teachers and school boards. Otter said it eliminates the practice of keeping ineffective teachers simply because they have seniority.

"I was a teacher. I was never in the union," Otter said.

She said she never wanted her money to go to issues supported by the National Education Association, and never thought it was necessary to be in the union simply to have legal assistance in the event of some liability.

The reform laws call for teacher evaluations by parents and administrators, something Otter said she supports because it gets principals looking hard at what's happening in their schools.

Regarding pay for performance, Otter said it's based on academic growth, not proficiency. There are standards set by the state and standards set by local school boards.

Prop 3 funds laptops for all high school students and teachers and requires an online course credit for high school graduation.

Repealing the laws will result in the elimination of local control for school boards, Otter said. There will be no laptops.

"If they fail, you go back to early retirement bonuses; you go back to seniority; you go back to tenure ... and the unions are in charge," Otter said.

There are teachers that support the referendums, she said.

"Because there's nothing worse than being in a building and knowing there are people who aren't doing their job," Otter said.

Marilyn Howard says she's voting no on all three propositions.

"I want to make a statement that says, 'Stop it.' Basically, I think we're hurting kids," she said.

Howard was Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction from January 1999 to December 2006. She holds a doctorate in curriculum and instructional science, and spent many years in the classroom.

Education reform proponents are talking about what Idaho students could have, rather than what students actually have or don't have.

"You know a district in the Treasure Valley this week asked for donations of reams of paper," Howard said.

Regarding pay for performance, Howard said that's not really what the state's plan is.

"This is how did the kids in the school do on tests," Howard said. "Performance on tests is not necessarily a reflection of good teaching, the kind of teaching I would call good teaching. Maybe it was all rote, force-fed, the kinds of facts you need to pass the test."

Flexible thinking and practical application aren't being measured on the standardized tests, she said, and there are drawbacks to using whole school rankings to determine if teachers should be awarded merit compensation.

"If a school does well, we could have a highly ineffective teacher getting a bonus ... and maybe the student did well because it didn't have limited English proficient students, it didn't have a high percentage of poverty and maybe it didn't have students with disabilities," Howard said.

Those groups of students are known to often fail to reach proficiency benchmarks or achieve academic growth, Howard said, and she is concerned about them, because it is through no fault of their own.

"I want kids to have hope, and honestly, when little kids walk across the threshold of the school, I don't want them to be seen as the enemy, the kid who's going to keep the teacher from getting a bonus," Howard said.

The state Department of Education should wait to put a pay for performance plan in place, she said. There are many other critical issues that need to be addressed first.

Public education uniformity is at risk in Idaho, Howard said, because school districts have to rely on local tax levies and districts have different populations and varying levels of support.

"Just bringing a computer into that rural area, isn't going to bridge that gap," Howard said. "The reality is, schools were already doing a huge amount of integration of technology. They have been for years."

Previous to the Students Come First legislation, Idaho schools were already offering online education through Idaho Digital Learning Academy, Howard said. IDLA, an online, for-credit school, was created by the Legislature in 2002. Howard said it was developed by Idaho educators who are its teachers as well.

"This is being dismissed, and they actually have reduced the budget for that school by $3.7 million," Howard said.

She said wherever she is, she hears from people from all age groups who are unhappy with what's happening in education now in Idaho.

"I feel that the people we depend on to do the right thing for us, have not been doing the right thing, and they're not owning up," Howard said.

She said the Legislature needs to look at the total taxing structure and make some big changes. Howard suggests they look specifically, and analyze the numerous exemptions that remove tax revenues from the state coffers.

"Nobody's even looking at that," Howard said.

Hamilton, Seddon endorse position

Coeur d'Alene school board trustees Tom Hamilton and Ann Seddon announced this week that they support the Idaho School Boards Association's position to vote yes on Proposition 1. The education referendum, one of three on the Nov. 6 ballot, asks voters if they approve or reject legislation that phases out teacher tenure and limits collective bargaining to salaries and benefits.

The ISBA is not taking a position on the other two propositions. Hamilton and Seddon said their positions on this are their own. The Coeur d'Alene school board has not taken a stance on any of the education reform referendums.

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  • rationaldiscussionplz posted at 10:31 am on Mon, Oct 15, 2012.

    rationaldiscussionplz Posts: 266

    I'll be voting YES on Propositions 1 and 2. They are good for teachers. Props 1 and 2 ensure job security for qualified teachers and provide bonuses to teachers who are doing a good job. I haven't quite decided about Proposition 3 yet. It's good to make sure kids know how to effectively take online classes and to get exposure to so many more possible fields of study than any one school can offer. But at the same time, I'm not a huge fan of having to pay for so many laptops.

    I don't look down upon and despise kids like the teachers union does. The IEA portrays Idaho's children a bunch of idiotic klutzes who can't be trusted with technology in its anti-education commercials. So I don't despise kids like the union. But at the same time, I recognize that most kids do have computers and internet access at home. And those who don't have it at home do have access through the schools and libraries. So I'm having difficulty accepting that particular expense. I'm leaning towards supporting Prop 3, but I'm not quite 100% on that yet.

    Props 1 and 2 are just common sense. Of course it's a yes vote on those.

  • rationaldiscussionplz posted at 10:22 am on Mon, Oct 15, 2012.

    rationaldiscussionplz Posts: 266

    Local, I don't think it's the teachers who are fighting against removing bad teachers. It's the teachers union that is fighting against removing bad teachers. It's bad for their own power and profit if the bad teachers get weeded out. Bad teachers need the union in order to keep their jobs, good teachers could give or take the union, because their jobs are pretty secure one way or another, and may choose not to join it.

    Recently the IEA put another $1.1 million of money taken from teachers through union dues towards its effort to defeat bonuses for good teachers.

    Unfortunately, there are a lot of good teachers who have a lot invested in the union or who have been browbeat by the union bosses for so long, they don't know which way is up anymore. So they just do what the union tells them to do, because they can't fathom that after so much personal investment into the union it would do something to hurt them. It's pretty sad, really, seeing the union take advantage of good people to push its agenda of ensuring that bad or unqualified teachers have job security and get raises, even though it's at the expense of good, qualified teachers.

  • hooper posted at 6:33 am on Mon, Oct 15, 2012.

    hooper Posts: 42

    I'll be voting NO on all the Props.

    Prop 3 does nothing but divert scarce state educational resources to out-of-state for-profit online course providers, like K12, Incorporated, which already has a toe-hold in Idaho.

    K12, Incorporated has a very poor track record in terms of educational effectiveness, and K12, Inc. is under investigation in several states for fraud.

    Google "K12 Inc fraud" for a host of examples of its shady practices.

    It bears repeating that K12, Inc. contributed heavily to Luna's reelection campaign.

  • AnonymousCda posted at 9:49 pm on Sun, Oct 14, 2012.

    AnonymousCda Posts: 299

    I'll be voting YES on Prop 3. Students do need to start more an earlier education learning by means of the Online education. To reach out an see what kind of learning is capable on the internet. There's plenty of resources to learn on the internet. The High School years are perfect to learn and understand code writing so there options will even more plenty than what they have today.
    In the Spokesmen Business section pointed out the Aerospace industry even needs more High School education for this industry. NIC will only be able to do so much. But a early start is needed not when they turn 18 years old. Doors only open when your introduced to what is truly is possible for you to learn and understand.

    If the Public Education is not up to this. Then Anonymous will fill the void.

  • DoBaLSOS posted at 8:14 pm on Sun, Oct 14, 2012.

    DoBaLSOS Posts: 33

    Your right wing talking point seems to have the hiccups. A healthy dose of the truth can fix it.

  • DoBaLSOS posted at 8:05 pm on Sun, Oct 14, 2012.

    DoBaLSOS Posts: 33

    Oh Inclined: Exactly how many hours have you spent inside a school building while teaching is going on. Because the wonderful volunteers I know are committed to supporting the hard working educators in our schools.
    Just out of curiosity, how many hours in the past month have you spent volunteering in a selfless act of kindness? And writing on the blogs doesn't count.

  • DoBaLSOS posted at 7:53 pm on Sun, Oct 14, 2012.

    DoBaLSOS Posts: 33

    Again Inclined: Did you take an online debate class? Because your arguments are a reflection of the effectiveness of most online classes.

  • DoBaLSOS posted at 7:48 pm on Sun, Oct 14, 2012.

    DoBaLSOS Posts: 33

    Inclined: Again changing the topic doesn't support your argument, then you go further down the rabbit hole by calling people names. Stick to the facts. Don't get personal.

  • DoBaLSOS posted at 7:45 pm on Sun, Oct 14, 2012.

    DoBaLSOS Posts: 33

    Diverting the topic with a lie. Poor argument.

  • martman posted at 10:34 am on Sun, Oct 14, 2012.

    martman Posts: 14

    Unions are not against removing bad teachers. Nobody, esspecially someone who cares about teaching wants an ineffective teacher working in a school.
    Unions are against removing a teacher without "cause", The Luna bills propose to eliminate a system that works, and install a system of favortism and cronism.
    Read the bills. Don't listen to simplistic ads and sound bites.

  • local res posted at 10:52 pm on Sat, Oct 13, 2012.

    local res Posts: 1164

    Why are the teachers fighting against removing bad teachers?

  • local res posted at 10:52 pm on Sat, Oct 13, 2012.

    local res Posts: 1164

    Why are the teachers fighting against removing bad teachers?

  • local res posted at 10:51 pm on Sat, Oct 13, 2012.

    local res Posts: 1164

    Why are the teachers fighting against removing bad teachers?

  • local res posted at 10:51 pm on Sat, Oct 13, 2012.

    local res Posts: 1164

    Why are the teachers fighting against removing bad teachers?

  • local res posted at 10:51 pm on Sat, Oct 13, 2012.

    local res Posts: 1164

    Why are the teachers fighting against removing bad teachers?

  • local res posted at 10:51 pm on Sat, Oct 13, 2012.

    local res Posts: 1164

    Why are the teachers fighting against removing bad teachers?

  • local res posted at 10:49 pm on Sat, Oct 13, 2012.

    local res Posts: 1164

    Ask if Marilyn Howard is a paid employee of the union. Was she a paid member while she was the superintendent?

  • local res posted at 10:46 pm on Sat, Oct 13, 2012.

    local res Posts: 1164

    Wasn't Marilyn Howard the super who always asked for more money, promising improvement that never arrived. Why would we believe you now? Marilyn Howard is the union paying you?

  • Rationale posted at 9:45 pm on Sat, Oct 13, 2012.

    Rationale Posts: 1974


    Well, I'm not on the Left, and a business degree has nothing to do with Education. Would you want me to be the head of the AMA and tell doctors how to do their jobs?

    Here's the problem: It doesn't matter if Luna is "listening to the people & working for the people" (though I'm not sure he is). None of the people making the decisions or supposedly "doing the best for the kids" has any expertise in the area of education.

    What happens when someone from the right is against this reform? Are you going to call them "liberal?"...or worse?

    These reforms are not the answer. And sorry to break this to you, but public elementary and secondary Education are not businesses...and kids are not assembly line products!

  • inclined posted at 9:06 pm on Sat, Oct 13, 2012.

    inclined Posts: 682

    When the Left makes a huge deal of Superintendent of Education Luna’s degree, the series of stages—the process and course of a Democrat such as Marilyn Howard and her degree of mastery as regards the ideology and philosophy of Progressive education is of much greater concern and much more critical and fatal than pointing out how a person of more common beginnings could be serving our state in an elected office when he is listening to the people and working for the people and striving to do the best for their kids.

    But actually, the elite supports the minority elements of our culture, from the nineteenth-century Europeans who came, to the twenty-first-century Africans, Mexican and now Asian and Arab concerns, because these people accept the intelligentsia as their mouthpiece, if only temporarily. And truth is “Intelligentsia” is rarely well educated; rather, it flaunts a superficial agitating knowledge which passes for “truth”. Biden demonstrated the blunderbuss in the debate. Bloviating symtoms of intelligent debate over substance. “I” cannot teach capitalists about management, politicians about diplomacy, or scientists about their subjects. Intelligentsia is retrograde, and calls societies away from high-end reality into “occupy” simplicity, where the “I” can be intellectually on par with the undergraduate. Public agitators, community organizers are the “I’s” heroes because they seek to overturn the existing complex weight of society’s addiction to failed governments, when they blame Bush for as many years as they remember other names like Rothchild and Rockefeller and Bilderberg.

    “I” (intelligentsia”) have invented a global rationalist world which comes nowhere near the complexities of real societies, and spitefully pushes societies into a mold. Failure to comply offends “I” to the marrow of its bones because that refusal trumpets the rejection of “I’s”” wisdom and leadership. Square realities offend “I’s” reason for being, and they call on the government or rioters to crush the existing societies and look at the most Progressive societies as models—because progressive societies are "heavenly", allow for a universe of quasi rationalist manipulation, and intellectually submit to wise foreign-educated intelligentsia; thus our love affair with the UN, IBO, Agenda 21, etc.

    The people of the arts, the archetypical “I”, are often deviants. Popular myth relates that to creativity. Deviance to creativity is a monkey’s striking on a typewriter and calling it poetry. Creativity takes a disciplined mind. The deviation I am referring to is moral degradation. It is a madness that sears conscience, which messes with the dna of a moral and spiritual creature.

    “I” is not to be confused with freedom’s advocates. “I” needs freedom only as much as is necessary to undermine the existing order and create a Utopia to preside over. When the Utopia is created, “intelligentsia” turns to totalitarian reaction, protecting its ivory tower, addressing in violence, drowning in blood. Look. There is no sane, objective reality in the denial of eventual violence connected to the Left, Progressive dream.

  • hooper posted at 1:23 pm on Sat, Oct 13, 2012.

    hooper Posts: 42

    Edit: Mrs. Otter says, as a teacher, SHE "never thought it was necessary"

  • hooper posted at 1:20 pm on Sat, Oct 13, 2012.

    hooper Posts: 42

    Mrs. Otter says, as a teacher, he "never thought it was necessary to be in the union" and she never wanted "her money" to go towards ...

    Did that include the raises, benefits and working conditions that the union (that she chose not to support) negotiated on her behalf? I guess it wasn't "necessary" to put "her money" in as long as she received the benefits. Entitled much, Mrs. Otter?

  • inclined posted at 12:29 pm on Sat, Oct 13, 2012.

    inclined Posts: 682

    Iola. Like voice of the people below, you are bloviating the asinine. Come back when you've developed.

  • inclined posted at 12:21 pm on Sat, Oct 13, 2012.

    inclined Posts: 682

    Really, voice of the pox? It has been happening in some schools for up to ten years. It is because you are not truly in the loop you embarrass yourself. Like buffoonie biden, we can see you smile, but the body behind it--kitsch. I know you haven't even read the body of the reform. And your disclosure about how your kids deal with responsibility, again, soo revealing deary.

  • mister d posted at 8:47 am on Sat, Oct 13, 2012.

    mister d Posts: 1531

    Ms. Howard sure made Ms. Otters arguements look foolish. Howard is a very respected woman with vast knowledge about educating students, Otter, not so much. Otter forgot to mention that the vast majority of teachers are against these propositions, or maybe since she has suck minimal contact with teachers she was unaware of this.

    Nathan, your points are incorrect, Idaho has had better than average national standardized test scores for years, thanks to the hard work of teachers snd students, not politicians who demonize the education profession and whine because teachers want a say in what they know best - educating kids.

    Vote NO on Propositions 1,2,3. Support Educators and the children who are our future.

  • hooper posted at 8:10 am on Sat, Oct 13, 2012.

    hooper Posts: 42

    Also, Mrs. Otter, as a teacher, how would you have answered this question on the "push poll" Luna sent out to 600 teachers (selected how?) this week:

    "I wish I got [sic] more...
    * respect as a teacher
    * pay as a teacher

    And how does that question "evaluate the effectiveness" of the reforms as purported?

    Why, all of a sudden, is the State Dept. of Ed. interested in gathering public "input" three weeks before the referendum vote?

  • hooper posted at 8:03 am on Sat, Oct 13, 2012.

    hooper Posts: 42

    So, Mrs. Otter, if you were still a PE teacher and coach, you'd see nothing wrong or unfair about receiving a $4,000-plus merit-pay "bonus" because the language arts, math and science teachers in your building successfully prepared the students in your school for the standardized tests?

  • lola123 posted at 7:26 am on Sat, Oct 13, 2012.

    lola123 Posts: 338

    Mr. Hamilton and Ms. Sedddon should keep their opinions to themselves. These statements make it seem like they represent the view of the whole board.
    Oh wait they do because they are all in lockstep with each other. And Purtee does not even send his kids to public school. The board is a joke.

  • nathanprower posted at 6:28 am on Sat, Oct 13, 2012.

    nathanprower Posts: 15

    So.....lets assume she IS touting her husbands position. Its an excellent position. FACTS are on his side. For 40 plus years our public schools have been turning out students with lower intelligence.....SAT scores. You make statements which have no facts to back them up. You "think" you know, but you really dont know squat. The whole nation is aware that the public education system is broken. Try using your brain next time before attempting to profess an arguement

  • voxpop posted at 4:56 am on Sat, Oct 13, 2012.

    voxpop Posts: 738

    "Otter said she's not out speaking for the reforms to tout her husband's position..."

    Ah yes. Honesty in the political process. Reminds me of the overpaid selfish pro athlete who starts his argument with, "It's not about the money but ..." If teachers aren't given due process before layoffs then districts will cut those who have the most experience because it's the biggest bang for the buck. Admin doesn't care about quality education, only how to manage finances. Recall Hazel's recent comments about PYP? And does anyone REALLY think giving iPads to kids will work? Anyone who's raised kids anyway. All 3 props are designed to do ONLY one thing in Idaho. Cut public ed costs to fund more largesse for minimum wage businesses.

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