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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Slow down Luna's plan

Posted Wednesday, February 23, 2011, at 8:45 AM

The Idaho Legislature will begin debate on Superintendent of Public Education Tom Luna's radical reformation of the public school system in Idaho this week.

A final vote on the matter is expected some time next week. Unfortunately, it looks like it will pass, despite overwhelming objections from educators and many citizens of Idaho, in particular those with children in school.

Tonight, at 6:30 p.m. at the high school gym, a town meeting has been called to discuss the proposal. We urge you to attend and become better informed about what this means for our local district.

We also urge all citizens to let their legislators know where they stand on the issue, what elements they like and what elements they don't like.

Despite the momentum behind this poorly conceived proposal, which was dumped on the voters and the legislators without any warning and little or no input and debate, there is still a chance to amend the legislation.

We would suggest two significant amendments.

First, restore the support units to their previous levels, or as close as possible within the funding available, and essentially pass last year's budget.

Second, let's see if Luna's plan has any merit by taking some of the $24 million he is planning to use to buy laptops for every student and instead launch a pilot program to find out where the landmines really are.

We would suggest one district from each of the five high school classifications be selected (from districts that volunteer), because small districts and large districts have significantly different problems and circumstances.

A four-year pilot program would be best, to track students throughout their high school career. In fact, that tracking should probably be continued beyond high school to see what kinds of successes, or failures, students have from such a significant change in how public school students are taught.

If it works, great.

If it doesn't, then only a small number of students will have been impacted adversely -- as many people fear will happen. But at the very least, we would have some hard data with which we could then make an informed decision. Right now, everyone on both sides is just speculating on the consequences.

A pilot program could show that some of our concerns may not be valid, and some problems may pop up that we hadn't even considered, but at least we'd know what works and what doesn't.

We believe the current proposal is designed less to put students first, as it claims, than it is to solve a fiscal crisis in the state so the legislature won't have to bite the bullet and raise taxes.

The fiscal crisis is temporary. A radical change in education isn't.

We need to take this slowly, not rush into the unknown blindly.


Comments
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So,

The only solutions I have seen offered here are TAXES and FEES....?????

We spend more $$$$ per student than any other country on the planet, and yet we rate so poorly?

-- Posted by mrjimbo on Fri, Feb 25, 2011, at 7:10 AM

"The public education of our citizens has always been about creating a functionally literate and informed citizenry...without which, the USA would perish."

-- Posted by AtomicDog on Thu, Feb 24, 2011, at 7:52 PM

AD,

Did you you see anything in my words about "touting the education system?" It may be semantical; but, I was trying to "tout" its purpose...not it's result.

-- Posted by junkyard dog on Thu, Feb 24, 2011, at 6:56 PM

So you condemn the citizenry as ignorant while touting the education system?

-- Posted by AtomicDog on Thu, Feb 24, 2011, at 6:36 PM

None of the bills are about education. Obama said, "Elections have consequences." and proceeded to push forward his agenda. Similarly, Idaho's legislators are saying the same thing, "Elections have consequences."

Our majority has voted to not increase, in fact, to decrease taxes in Idaho; and the Legislators are giving us the government we voted for and deserve. Nothing put forth before the Assembly has anything to do with "how children learn" or "how homeskoolin' is mo' bettah dan gubmint intafearence 'to ower life stile."

What's happening before our very eyes is democracy in action...the reaction of the combined ignorance of the majority against the combined opinion of the minority. (neither of which require reason nor forethought)

The public education of our citizens has always been about creating a functionally literate and informed citizenry...without which, the USA would perish. Public education must be "apolitical" not a football to be kicked around by bean counters and politicians who fight for the people they think can best butter their bread.

-- Posted by junkyard dog on Thu, Feb 24, 2011, at 5:41 PM

And soon will pass the house. Maybe the democrats in the house can leave the state like the cowards that went AWOL in the other states.

-- Posted by AtomicDog on Thu, Feb 24, 2011, at 3:26 PM

Luna's Bill passed the Senate

http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2011/fe...

-- Posted by MsMarylin on Thu, Feb 24, 2011, at 3:06 PM

We can't make anyone learn as that is up to the individual. We do however have an obligation to provide an opportunity to learn, for all. There are studies out there, and you should maybe do your own research about drop out rates and crime.

-- Posted by pchiarella on Thu, Feb 24, 2011, at 2:49 PM

I joined in 2001. My ASVAB scores are Gen 96, Mech 98, Elec 93, Admin 79. I qualified for any career in the military.

I was working full time and more important priorties, like being able to house and feed myself. I know every situation is not the same, but for me, school was a complete waste of time. I was 16 and had to wait till I turned 17 to join the military.

My point is you can do whatever you want in life, if you have the motivation. It does not come from schools or parents, it has to come from with in yourself. If we coddle these kids, they will not learn to thrive in society. Your previous post prove that. Have the items on the list are not taught in an academic enviroment, but through living life.

-- Posted by Conservative on Thu, Feb 24, 2011, at 2:41 PM

Military recruiters no longer consider many alternative high school diplomas acceptable due to an excess of online courses as they consider alternative high schools the same as home schools, and feel that they lack the rigor and relevance of conventional high schools.

The problem with "requiring" online courses at least at the K-12 level, we could lose our Tier 1 status

I don't know when you joined the military, however here are the educational requirements for enlisting today:

Tier I

Applicants in Tier I have a high school diploma, or at least 15 college credits. This means a high school diploma, not a GED. Depending on state law, completion of high school by home study may or may not be considered equivelant to a high school diploma.

Tier II

Tier II includes GEDs, home study (in some states), Certificate of Attendance, Alternative/Continuation High School, Correspondence School Diplomas, and Occupational Program Certificate (Vo/Tech). The services limit the number of Tier II candidates it will allow to enlist each year.

In the Air Force, the limit is less than one percent each year. In such cases, the applicant must score a minimum of 50 on the AFQT to qualify (Note: The "AFQT" is the overall ASVAB score).

The Army will allow up to 10 percent each year to be Tier II candidates, but they must score a minimum of 50 on the AFQT.

The Marines will only allow about 5 percent each year to be Tier II, and the Navy about 10 percent. Like the Army and Air Force, Tier II recruits must score a minimum of 50 on the AFQT to qualify.

The Coast Guard only accepts Tier 2 candidates if they have prior military service, and even then requires them to score higher on the AFQT (50 for prior Coast Guard Service, 65 for prior service in other branches).

Tier III

Individuals who are not attending high school and are neither high school graduates nor alternative credential holders. The services almost never accept a Tier 3 candidate for enlistment. If you fall into this category, your best bet is to get at least 15 college credits, so that you will be qualified as Tier I.

-- Posted by pchiarella on Thu, Feb 24, 2011, at 2:30 PM

How about we just tax, parents that have kids in school?

Oh wait that is against the law. We have to provide an education for all, despite individual resources.

Their is a tax just for education, I see it every year on my property tax statement. But this tax is only payed by some, not all. A fix to the problem is not raising taxes, this is only a band-aid.

I am surprised that illegal immigrants and ESL hasn't come up in any of these discussions. What is the cost to the MHSD to adminster the ESL program and to educate the children of illegals? How many teachers jobs could be saved if they said it is a parents obligation to ensure your child speaks english, before forcing you upon already burdened teachers?

-- Posted by Conservative on Thu, Feb 24, 2011, at 2:29 PM

Problems:

* SB1108 - Removes the ability to collectively bargain and only opens the door for the "good ole' boy" system of hiring and firing, unfair labor practices, and eliminates the requirement to bargain in good faith. It could open the door to law suits as there would be no due process proceedings required for changing length of term of contract or reducing salary of employees.

* SB1108 -- Increase in student/teacher ratio further reduces funding to districts.

* Fractional ADA (Average Daily Attendance) -- the district would receive 1/3 and the online provider would receive 2/3.

* Books - What schools currently can't do is give each student a book and the majority of our administrative technological tools, attendance and grade books, have gone web-based, as well as many of our instructional resources, which has caused us to have bandwidth issues.

* The majority of my students already have Internet at home and more than 50% of their assignments can be done at home over the Internet. However, interestingly this has not strengthened their learning achievement because there is still the same percentage of students who still wait until the last minute sitting in the classroom rushing to complete their work when they have had six days to complete it AT HOME!

* We have schools that are inadequate to support additional students and in many cases, ours in particular, the new proposed increase in student/teacher ratios would put us in fire code violation.

Ideas:

1. Create a tax that would be specifically spent on education.

2. Invest in building adequate "21st Century" schools. This would not only improve education, but it would also create jobs and stimulate Idaho's economy.

3. Replace paper books with Electronic books, such as a Kindle™, or another electronic reading device. Students can have their resources available to them and this reduces the cost of paper required each year and also reduces the cost for books. These can also be returned at the end of the year and would be cheaper to maintain.

4. Move education dollars out of the "general fund".

5. Fines for deadbeat parents who contribute to truancies/absences.

-- Posted by pchiarella on Thu, Feb 24, 2011, at 2:19 PM

So if you drop out of high school, you will become an inmate??? Kind of funny, I dropped out of school, received my GED within two weeks, and joined the military. I have never been arrested; nor commited a crime. I earned my associates degree and am working on my bachelors. I have been very successful in my career, sewed on E-7 in 9 years 4 days.

But if you are a drop-out, you must be stupid??? I get so tired of this stero-type.

As for no student being smarter than another, that is not true. Yes everyone learns at a different pace, but some people are smarter than others, it is a FACT.

The thing that sucks for teachers is they can't pick their students. So when they get "slower" kids it hurts their evaluation. Honestly this everyone is special society we live in today is wrong. Even just 20 years ago if your child had special needs they went to special ed classes, so that other kids could learn without having to wait for the "Special" child to understand. But we have become so politically correct that it is wrong for us to single out "special" kids.

-- Posted by Conservative on Thu, Feb 24, 2011, at 2:19 PM

In "Workforce Readiness for High School Graduates" (Payton 2005), research shows that high school students are not emerging out of high school prepared for the world of work. Work-place competencies and skills, specifically business skills, are needed regardless if someone is going on to post-secondary education or not. The study was done in 2005 and lists the top 13 skills gap and they are ranked in order:

1. Communication Skills

2. Work Ethic

3. Writing Skills

4. Reading Skills (ability to read and follow instructions)

5. Technology skills

6. Teamwork skills

7. Self-management skills

8. Thinking skills

9. Learning skills

10. Problem solving skills

11. Adaptability skills.

12. Math skills

13. Leadership skills

Technology and online classes will not reduce these skills gaps because these are skills students learn in a cooperatvie learning environment.

-- Posted by pchiarella on Thu, Feb 24, 2011, at 2:14 PM

There is data to support where education needs to change and the data shows that teacher/student ratio's are what makes the difference. I feel these bills are in direct contract to what "experts" say, not corporations who are trying to sell a product.

Here are some references with regard to student achievement:

"..at least twenty-four separate studies have found that giving teachers more instructional time -- that is, giving students more time to learn -- leads to higher achievement." (Walberg, 1990 Wang, Haertel, & Walberg, 1993)". (Psychology Applied to Teaching, Snowman, Jack, Biehler, Robert, Houghton Mifflin Company, pg 11).

The professional educator learns the aspects of teaching that are outside of content area such as child development, how children learn, behavior and motivation, and that is just a small example of the expertise that teachers bring. "Pedagogical content knowledge is different from knowledge of general teaching methods." (How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School, Committee on the Developments in the Science of Learning, National Academy Press, pg 155).

Just because you have a Bachelor's degree in a subject area, weights and measures for example, doesn't mean that you can teach math. "Though experts know their disciplines thoroughly, this does not guarantee that they are able to teach others." (How People Learn, pg 31). "Expertise in particular areas involves more than a set of general problem-solving skills, it also requires well-organized knowledge of concepts and inquiry procedure." (How People Learn, pg 155)

In-class instruction allows for the instructor to match learning objectives to individual student learning. Studies show that the best classroom environment allows for differentiated learning. "Dunn and Dunn model between 1980 and 1990 by thirteen different institutions of higher education revealed that students whose characteristics were accommodated by education interventions responsive to their learning styles could be expected to achieve 75% of a standard deviation higher than students whose styles were not accommodated. (Dunn et al. 1995)" (Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Issues in Education Psychology, Third Edition, Abbeduto, Leonard, pg 90).

-- Posted by pchiarella on Thu, Feb 24, 2011, at 1:52 PM

I don't know where mthome8742's daughter took an online class, but through IDLA I was not actually taught through the computer. I was linked to various documents to read, videos to watch, and activities which often were "corrected" by the computer- the teacher just built the test and linked us to various assignments. The most interaction I had was through the discussion boards and those weren't very insightful. I retained almost nothing from that class.

I do recognize the need for change- however this plan is NOT the right kind of change.

-- Posted by lilmissmelmo on Thu, Feb 24, 2011, at 12:03 PM

WTFM,

Please, please show me some data that will convince me there is no need for change. I find both good and bad in these bills and sit on the fence when it comes to their passing or not. I would like to hear some alternative plans or hear reasons why change is not needed. What is going to happen if these bills do not pass?

-- Posted by jtrotter on Thu, Feb 24, 2011, at 11:45 AM

Who stands to benefit from the Education Reform Bills? We see a lot of corporate sponsors coming forward from the private sector trying to sell us something. Well I am not buying it. I have trained both adult learners and high school students and I can say with 100% certainty that the objectives on both sides are polar opposites.

Corporations are out to make a profit. Schools are not for profit. The bottom line of educators is the learning achievement of students. So how are educators supposed to give quality education to our kids when constantly having to do more with less?

The corporate sponsors of these bills clearly have monetary motivation. We are in a financial crisis in this country, and our greatest asset is our children and the quality of education that they receive is vital to a strong future. Cutting more jobs to further burden the unemployment and health and welfare system does not make sense.

Ada County has a six million dollar surplus that they are using to build a new jail! These new bills will further widen the already existing skills gap in high school graduates. Eliminating programs in the schools that keep our kids in school will wind up costing the state and tax payer a lot more in the end.

Every study shows that it is lower student/teacher ratios that make the difference in student achievement and the work environment of our teachers is the environment of our students.

And why is it that before the election Luna said that Idaho had a great educational system. Now all of a sudden it needs a complete overhaul? Where was this plan BEFORE the election, because it wasn't just thrown together over a weekend!

Who profits from this? I can tell you that it is not Idaho students.

Schools already offer ways to deliver assignments that can be done online, but it is done where students still maintain the one-on-one interaction with a real-time, flesh and blood teacher. Not someone with whom they email a couple of times a week. K-12 learners do not thrive in that environment. Nor should we be required to provide the environment for our students and give 2/3 of every dollar to out of state or corporate interests.

Businesses may train their employees by use of online tutorials and classes, but these are already individuals who are being paid by the company and already have a developed brain (we hope) and have learned the skills in order to be a "self learner". Where did they learn these skills? I bet it was from a teacher in the class room.

How do we need to reform education and at the same time improve education? I think the focus needs to be on improving education first. And these bills do not achieve that single goal.

If these bills pass, what will happen is we will see a further increase in dropout rates, and in turn we will see our jails getting bigger and bigger.

It costs over $67,000 a year to house a single inmate, yet the starting salary of a teacher in Mountain Home is $30,000 a year. You do the math. What's cheaper, continually funding incarceration or funding education?

Senate Bill 1108 would eliminate teacher's rights to due process. In addition this bill would make teachers' "at will" employees and within rural school districts would hinder attracting and keeping quality teachers. As a teacher I would rather take a pay cut then see a program such as our vocational programs cut from the high school. And if you ask, most teachers would say the same.

The Pay for Performance piece of this legislation is also unfair as it is completely dependent on funding from the Senate Bill 1113 which cuts over 700 teaching jobs. So we pass a bill that requires funding from another bill that has yet to make it past the Senate Committee? Does that even make sense to anyone?

These bills would also cut Idaho teaching positions and further burden our already weak economy to give millions of dollars to outside "corporate" interests, who are lining the pockets of the politicians who are pushing for this bill. Corporate intersts have no place in PUBLIC education.

-- Posted by pchiarella on Thu, Feb 24, 2011, at 10:46 AM

From a recent press release on Luna's plan:

Transparent Accountability: Parents, taxpayers, and policymakers have current, accurate information on all student achievement results and financial matters in their schools and districts. The state must ensure school district leaders are held accountable for student achievement results and taxpayer dollars at the local level. To do this, the state will empower parents by giving them input on teacher evaluations and access to understandable fiscal report cards for each district. Locally elected leaders now will have more flexibility to manage from year to year by streamlining collective bargaining practices. In addition, the state will work with every local district to ensure they take full advantage of statewide purchasing contracts, and will require that all taxpayer dollars follow the student.

In reference to the plan Luna commented, "The state must ensure school district leaders are held accountable for student achievement results and taxpayer dollars at the local level."

Our local leaders don't exactly instill confidence. In a way it seems like the plan would give the "local leaders" enough rope to hang themselves by giving them more flexibility but requiring accountability. That's the part that nay-sayers are hung up on. They do not want accountability.

-- Posted by VicVega on Thu, Feb 24, 2011, at 7:07 AM

Yes. "Teachers are needed. not computor." That just about sums up the whole argument doesn't it? I can only hope that this type of person will show up at the meeting tonight and beat a drum and have a love-in. Oh wait Kelly the greasy will be there "reporting" his bias opinion so the beatnik crowd is covered.

-- Posted by CountryDweller on Wed, Feb 23, 2011, at 4:47 PM

My child has succeeded because she has gotten the one on one help and the online class is not being taught by a computer. There are real live teachers teaching, they just are not physical present.

-- Posted by mthome8742 on Wed, Feb 23, 2011, at 4:46 PM

I am new to this area, as I just moved here from Helena Montana in October of last year. Our schools have always been a subject of discussion no matter where we come from. I cannot say for sure what the Luna project is, but I can say that if our kids are needing special help and we can't afford to get it through the schools, then we have to figure out a way we can get it for them. Where I came from to minimize friction amongst the students by name calling and critisizm towards each other, they implimented a student helping student program. Kids learn at different levels and no one student is smarter than the other, it is just some students are quicker to learn. So if you have students who are quicker helping those that arent, there would be a better student to student bond there, and less critisizm between students. Also to help teachers without having to create more funds to do so, they had Adult volunteers that signed up to help during the school year in different classrooms, giving children more one on one attention, plus the students that finished assignments early were asked to help students struggling with the same assignments, therefore giving even more students much needed one on one attention. It also helped students falling behind get caught up and stay caught up with their peers, giving them a better sense of pride and a feel of success. If a child is struggling and cannot keep up with their classmates they are subject to critisizm by other classmates and can fall into a depression. So lets help our kids to succeed as they are our future. Also with this dress code that has been implimented in the Caldwell School District can be a strain on low-income families or familes who are new to the area that have already purchased school clothes for the year. I proposed to our school counselor a open house that parents of children who have outgrown their school clothes that are in excellent shape..(no holes or stains), donate them to the school so every child has the appropriate school clothing needed, and their would be less notes going home to parents due to improper school wear. I appologise if I have not covered the correct proposal at hand, as I said I am new to the area, but I believe I have some good ideas in some areas. Thank you for your time.

-- Posted by taximomtoo on Wed, Feb 23, 2011, at 2:52 PM

mtnhome8742 the reason your child got a lot of one on one help was that the online teacher did not have 28 plus other kids distracting her throughout the said class..Teachers are needed. not computor.

-- Posted by solaceone on Wed, Feb 23, 2011, at 2:16 PM

I agree with MtnHomer. All three elements of the Student Come First Bills are clear and to the point. The most important element to me as a parent is the transparent accountability section. Like any other job your employer requires you to perform, why shouldn't our educators be held to the same standard? My child is currently enrolled in an online math class and we both think this has been a great experience. She has received more one-on-one help from this teacher than she has all year long from the teachers and counselors that she sees every day.

Thank you Tom Luna for helping our children.

-- Posted by mthome8742 on Wed, Feb 23, 2011, at 1:19 PM

To MtnHomer...The federal government passed a health care bill that the majority of Americans were against. Do you think they had the majority or did they just have the votes to pass it against the demands of the public? Does there need to be some type of reform? Yes! But do so with the input from those who have experience. Mr. Luna does not have a background in education and only speculates on the statistics from other states where there is also information to refute the success he thinks he will have.

-- Posted by Really?? on Wed, Feb 23, 2011, at 12:32 PM

I agree with MtnHomer. But we will have to see if the whiners can shut government down somehow and avoid the situation and circumvent democracy like their brethren in WI. Lets see, they have tried to intimidate Luna. Didn't work. They went to the capitol and chanted "kill the bill", very vitriolic but didn't work. Hmmm..... What little greasy sixties hippie tactic will they use? The suspense is, pardon my vitriol, killing me.

-- Posted by AtomicDog on Wed, Feb 23, 2011, at 11:40 AM

Kelly,

I have to thank you for a well thought out, substantial editorial. The idea of a four year pilot program for this plan is outstanding. This is the logical approach to radical reform and should be implemented. Let the good and the bad of the plan be brought to light before forcing this down the throats of the students, teachers and school administrators.

Nobody likes change but in this case it is needed. We cannot stay the course we are on, we are falling further and further behind the rest of the civilized world in education.

-- Posted by jtrotter on Wed, Feb 23, 2011, at 10:42 AM


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