Last Friday, Sen. Tim Corder met with local teachers to discuss Supt. of Education Tom Luna's plans for the future of education in Idaho.
Needless to say, the teachers left upset, concerned, frustrated and with little hope, because it looks like the plan will probably pass the legislature with only some minor tinkering.
That would be an absolute disaster to public education and the students in Idaho. The only true option left in the limited time available to the legislature is to pass last year's woefully underfunded education bill, which is still much, much better than Luna's proposal this year.
Luna often talks in public about how teachers are the state's most valuable resource. But in private, he badmouths them. That two-faced hypocrisy, and his overall lack of support for public schools in Idaho, is clearly shown in his proposals.
Flying in the face of every study ever done on student performance, Luna wants to raise class sizes (cutting 779 teachers statewide). It's well documented that smaller class sizes, where teachers can spend more time working with students one on one, significantly improves classroom performance.
We've already got classes in the high school now with more than 30 students in them (some as many as 36), and adding 4-6 more students per class won't help (if there is actually room to fit them all in one class).
Like other schools across Idaho last year, the Mountain Home School District had to make cuts in some of its programs. It kept as much as possible, but this latest budget is even worse than the last one Luna sent through the legislature.
Again, there is no money for textbooks and the schools will be so strapped for funds and teachers that some of the key elective programs may have to be cut.
All of this will happen so students can study on-line rather than being taught by a trained instructor. Studies have repeatedly shown that on-line classes do little more than teach to a tests -- that students usually do not retain the knowledge they're taught by computers much beyond the class itself. All across the state, we're seeing stories of students who've taken on-line classes and prefer a teacher, instead.
Furthermore, many colleges and universities won't accept on-line class credits, which, at a time when the state is actively encouraging students to extend their education beyond high school, would severely hamper their ability to do so.
Next week, there will be a town hall meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday (Feb. 23) in the high school gym for the public to hear more details about Luna's plan and be able to ask their own questions. We strongly urge you to attend. Your questions and comments will be vital to our elected leaders deciding what they want to do with the plan.
It's time to get involved in your child's education -- and the future of their education.