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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Here's our annual 'kiss of death'

Posted Wednesday, October 24, 2012, at 8:28 AM

There's just under two weeks left before the election, and if the race at the top doesn't excite you there are some crucial "undercard" elections that could be even more important for Idaho voters.

The editorial board of the Mountain Home News was split straight down the middle on the presidential candidates. Like the polarization in this country, the divide was sharp and more anti-candidate than pro-candidate. There were those who really didn't want to see Obama re-elected, so by default they wanted us to urge a vote for Romney, and there were those who really didn't want to see Romney elected, so by default they were urging a vote for Obama. Nobody seemed genuinely excited about either candidate, so the consensus seemed to be: hold your nose and vote your conscience.

It got a lot easier when it came to endorsing the race for Second District Congressman. In another day, another age, on another planet, Nicole LeFavour might be a good choice. But she's running against a great choice. Incumbent Congressman Mike Simpson is one of those rare politicians who's a public servant first -- and a very good one, especially representing the interests of the people of Idaho. He's smart, wise, hardworking and reasonable. We've often ranted and raved about the problems with Congress, but Mike isn't the problem. If anything, he's one of those you look to as being part of the solution. We cannot urge you strongly enough to vote to re-elect Mike Simpson for Congress.

In our new Legislative District 23, which is all of Elmore and Owyhee County and a tiny fragment of Twin Falls County, Republican Bert Brackett gets our nod for his solid, responsible, honest work. Independent Bill Chisholm just didn't reach Bert's standards.

The board was split on the District 23 Position A House seat, with a small minority favoring Democrat Jody Bickle but the majority encouraging re-election of Republican incumbent Rich Wills.

However, for District 23 House Seat B, the board was united in its opposition to incumbent Pete Nielsen, and urged a vote for Democratic challenger Pam Chiarella. The board felt that while Pete may be one of the nicest guys on the planet, he's been a poor legislator, essentially nothing more than a pawn for his political party leadership to move around on the board.

He's repeatedly voted to cut funding for public education and didn't bother to attend the local public forums on the Luna laws where citizens were able to ask questions and offer their opinions.

He hasn't enamored himself with our local cities and counties for issues important to them, and he's had some bizarre moments in his career (remember the little breast feeding tempest in a teapot?).

Nor has he demonstrated, by actual words and action, any belief in the value of the voters themselves. He got conned by the seriously right-wing leadership of his party to be a key sponsor of a resolution calling for repeal of the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Apparently, he doesn't feel the voters are smart enough or should be trusted to elect U.S. senators on their own, that they should be selected by a small handful of party leaders (before that amendment, most senators were appointed by their governors with the advice and consent of their legislatures).

Being a nice guy isn't enough. It's time for a change in that seat and Chiarella is a smart, fiscally conservative option this time around.

For the First District County Commissioner seat, the board unanimously endorsed Independent Larry "Slick" Jewett, citing his long involvement with government (on the rural fire district and fair boards) and his sharp mind. No one on the board spoke ill of Republican Bud Corbus, they just thought Slick would do a better job.

For Third District Commission, the board unanimously selected Democrat Mike Crawford over Republican incumbent Al Hofer. Board members expressed concern with Hofer's decisionmaking when it came to huge developments such as the planned cities in the Mayfield area. Hofer is, himself, a developer. Crawford is a lawyer and former deputy public defender.

No one is challenging any of the other local races, so they're all shoo-ins for re-election, and the board strongly and unanimously urged the retention of the two excellent magistrate judges in Elmore County, George Hicks and David Epis.

Finally, there were two amendments to the state constitution and three voter-petition resolutions to repeal the three key provisions of Luna Laws.

On SJR 102 it makes sense to put felony probation and parole under the direction and management of the state board of correction. Vote yes on that amendment.

On HJR 2aa, the amendment essentially affirms the right to hunt, fish and trap in Idaho, and we urge a yes vote.

Finally, there were the three Luna Laws, where the board urged a No, No and He** No! vote. A no vote means you object to what the legislature did two years ago and want to repeal the Luna education plan.

Individually, Proposition 1 asks if you are in favor of limiting bargaining rights of teachers to just compensation and one-year contracts, allow school boards to cut salaries without due process and end some retirement incentives.

Proposition 2 is the "pay for performance" law that sounds good in general until you actually try and make it work fairly in practice, since only a small percentage of classes (at the high school level at least) are actually tested (and then only once a year) to evaluate student "progress." The law also functionally means that every school district in the state may have a different criteria. Voting no means essentially that you want to keep the current system of pay based primarily on experience and training.

Proposition 3 is the famous "laptop" law, in which Luna and the legislature hope to eliminate 800 teachers in Idaho and replace them with computers. Two years into the law the laptops still haven't shown up and the state has cut the requirement from essentially one class every semester to only two classes for all four years of high school. But the cuts to pay for teachers go on. This was a poor and hastily conceived law, thrown together between the time Luna was elected and the start of the legislature two months later. As much as educators would love to have more technology in the classroom, they want it as an extra tool, not to replace trained flesh-and-blood teachers. This law is why class sizes have been climbing to terrible levels all across Idaho. This is the most important of the Luna Laws that needs to be rejected. Vote no.


Comments
Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

Buckshot,

It is not uncommon for editorial board to come together in support for a candidate. Don't like it? Stop reading opinion columns. This has been a standard practice since the dawn of journalism.

You don't have to agree, you don't have to be pursuaded. You don't even have to read it.

-- Posted by lilmissmelmo on Wed, Oct 24, 2012, at 8:37 PM

Don't worry lilmiss, bucky doesn't think anyone is right about anything except himself: You're not entitled to write or speak your opinion. After all, it's his world, dontcha know?

-- Posted by MrMister on Thu, Oct 25, 2012, at 2:57 AM

My take - Obama, "Luna laws" - "No, No and He** No!

I have teachers in my family, and they do have the best interest of their students at heart. One of the teachers in my family gives her lunch up to kids who have none. They average a 12 hour work day.

Computers should supplement classroom discussion and instruction. Efforts to replace a teacher with a computer are short sighted and do not have the best interests of students at heart.

-- Posted by Dave Thompson on Thu, Oct 25, 2012, at 7:24 AM

Buckshot61 is biting the hand that feeds him. If it weren't for opinionated writers, he'd have nothing to cut and paste. I look at the sources of his articles and they are chock full o' nuts.

-- Posted by Dave Thompson on Thu, Oct 25, 2012, at 7:30 AM

Mr. Thompson I believe you when you say that you know some very dedicated teachers. And I don't think anyone would disupte that we have some very good teachers in our district. However we have a few that are under performing and some that just plain won't perform. I also believe that some of the under performing teachers would be better teachers if the administration would hold them accountable. When people aren't held accountable, they become complacent. That's why Props 1 & 2 need to be passed. As far as Prop 3 goes, I'm not sure that it's the right direction. With that said, our students have been falling farther and farther behind other industrialized nations for decades and the only solution we've heard from the teachers union is pay more and you'll get a better education. If the teachers (not the union) can come up with a realistic solution I for one an willing to listen. But for I'm going to have to at least give Mr. Luna a chance.

-- Posted by TundraRat on Thu, Oct 25, 2012, at 9:39 AM

I agree with that - the teacher's unions have way too much power - as do all the unions. Because of the teacher's unions - bad teachers can't be fired. Teachers all get the same pay. Better teachers are not rewarded with merit pay. Our education system is not of the caliber you'd expect what with all the money taxpayers pay to the Dept of Education. New ideas should be adopted.

-- Posted by Second Wind on Thu, Oct 25, 2012, at 2:38 PM

If teachers are working with ignorant young people who may or may not understand the importance of their presence in the classroom, how do we avoid having the kids go on "strike" to get rid of teachers they don't like?

-- Posted by Dave Thompson on Thu, Oct 25, 2012, at 3:01 PM

Good post TundraRat. We had seven teachers in our immediate family and they all seemed to have ideas on how best to teach. One thing they all had in common was that all knew someone who should not be teaching. The ones that were in it for more money, more money. The ones that were in it for no income tax when they retired. The ones in it for the months off during the summer. The ones in it for all the holidays. I could go on.

-- Posted by skeeter on Thu, Oct 25, 2012, at 3:55 PM

Mr. Thompson,

I suppose that's a scenario that could happen. But, it's been my experience that teachers who have a good rapport with their students produce better educated/less ignorant students. If this scenario were to happen, then it's time for administrators and parents to get involved and discuss the issue and determine an appropriate solution. Personally I believe that students should have some say as to a teacher's effectiveness. Ultimately any decision to keep or terminate the teacher would be left to administrators with input from parents and other teachers.

-- Posted by TundraRat on Thu, Oct 25, 2012, at 6:02 PM

How would administrative and parental involvement be more effective under a merit pay system?

-- Posted by Dave Thompson on Thu, Oct 25, 2012, at 7:17 PM

What I find so ugly is that NO media -

Newspapers, TV, or radio just report

the news as it is. They all have to put

their own slant on it . Actually, no one

wants their personal opinion on anything .

JUST THE FACTS AND ALL OF THE

FACTS WITH NO ALTERATIONS!!!

-- Posted by yniashi on Thu, Oct 25, 2012, at 9:17 PM

Buckshot,

I agree. Mr. Thompson posed a hypothetical question. We can question the issue to death but without another viable option we will still be in the same place on Nov 7th.

What I would like to know is what solution Mr. Thompson would like to propose.

-- Posted by TundraRat on Fri, Oct 26, 2012, at 6:54 AM

Just so there are no more hypotheticals involved, which specific issue do you propose to address and solve?

-- Posted by Dave Thompson on Fri, Oct 26, 2012, at 7:43 AM

Disregard my last. I don't have the time to engage anyone in this.

-- Posted by Dave Thompson on Fri, Oct 26, 2012, at 7:59 AM

LOL tinkerbuck,

I don't normally post opinions, so no worries there. And it's normally not opinions of others I have an issue with. It's the holier than thou approach of certain people formulating opinions (or cutting and pasting, in your case) that concerns me. Ya see, people with complexes tend to overcompensate for their shortcomings by portraying themselves as all-encompassing. They feel the need to "pipe in" regarding every issue. And while piping in on occasion is healthy for the mind and soul, continual ranting and self-portrayal of superiority indicates a lack of self worth and a need to justify one's place.

Some feel superior due to military service, and others by browbeating. Those, of course, are but two examples; the list is infinite.

-- Posted by MrMister on Fri, Oct 26, 2012, at 8:21 PM

P.S.

I seem to recall that you previously stated here that you had a life and that was the reason you didn't post as much as Roy (in a very patronizing manner, I might add). So, if you do, in fact, have that much of a life, why is it that you are posting more than he did on an almost daily basis? Just wondering...

Face it Bucky Boy, you're a little blowhard.

-- Posted by MrMister on Fri, Oct 26, 2012, at 8:35 PM

I'm through teaching your kids in the face of political ignorance. You may not know me, but I've decided to not give a darn about about your children's future...It's not the Unions, it's you.

-- Posted by junkyard dog on Sat, Oct 27, 2012, at 5:38 PM

See what I mean.

Now what about the "having a life" thing. Sure do post a lot there, don't ya bucky? Feel better with your "superior" post??? tool

-- Posted by MrMister on Sat, Oct 27, 2012, at 8:52 PM

CJW, why not just become a teacher?

-- Posted by Dave Thompson on Sat, Oct 27, 2012, at 9:52 PM

Congrats to you, CJW, Buckshot, and everyone else who supports Props 1, 2, and 3. You've been sold a shotty bill of goods by your party and you've fallen for it hook, line, and sinker. Let's start with you, CJW. Please sight where exactly you get your information on our "great benefits?" See, compared to my wife's benefits, my copays are higher and it's much more expensive to include our children on my plan. Oh, I know, the gods at Fox have been harping for the past two years about how our pay and benefits are worth $80 thousand or some nonsense. Well, let me tell you, genius, that's not at all true here in Idaho. In fact, we've all had our benefits cut this year because the legislature's been underfunding education. So before you go spouting off about things you have no personal experience with whatsoever, get the facts. And I don't mean from a "fair and balanced" source either.

As to your other point, about how we "only work 8 months a year." Any teacher worth his salt puts in way more time than the calendar says. Again, you and your ilk are quick to jump to this point when denigrating teachers like myself, but if you were to actually spend some time with teachers, instead of practicing your diarrhea of the mouth, you'd know better. I bring home work almost every night, which is in addition to my hours at school, and I don't get paid for it. Add it all up, and it's well over 8 months. Not to mention the prep time over the summer. But again, it's much easier to criticize, then to get the real story, isn't it.

Now, you, Buckshot. Indoctrination? Really? You're going to fall back on that tired old conservative gripe. Get a life, man. I'm sure you have plenty of actual experience inside a classroom, listening to this indoctrination first-hand don't you? Yet another lame right wing talking point with absolutely no basis in fact.

It is not just Luna versus unions when it comes to Students Come First. I'm not a member of the union, and I realize how backwards these "reforms" are. Limited collective bargaining affects more than just pay. Without the power to negotiate, we could have no control over issues such as prep times, class sizes, supply budgets, even curriculum. Now, I'd like to think that our administrators would be reasonable when it comes to these items, but you never know do you? But that's not the point is it, my very red friends? As long as the unions gets theres, right?

Prop 2 does not reward the "best teachers." It rewards those who are privileged enough to work with affluent students. Students in more financially fit areas have more support at home, and thus, perform better on tests. That's not opinion, that's fact, from someone who's spent his entire education career working with at-risk children. Don't believe me, take a look at the schools that earned the "bonuses" (which is a total misnomer by the way, as our pay was cut to finance them in the first place). You will see that the schools that earned the "bonuses" and received the higher star ratings are in the more affluent areas. And while we're on the subject, why on earth would we institute a mandate that leans more heavily on test scores? Didn't Idaho apply for a waiver for No Child Left Behind? Hasn't it been proven by now that standardized tests and the focus on them is garbage? Prop 2 sounds like Luna's doing us a great favor, but it's flawed in ways only those whom it's supposed to be benefitting understand.

As for Prop 3, aside from the obvious--replacing teachers with laptops--let's just wait and see who will benefit from an online education contract. Hmmm... could it be K12, one of Luna's major campaign contributors. C'mon, you two love conspiracy theories (at least when it comes to your president), I'm sure you'd love to follow the money.

The only argument I've seen for the Luna Laws is one of two: 1 We need to do SOMETHING or 2. Let's stick it to the unions. While it's clear things need to change, these ill-conceived measures have absolutely nothing to do with improving education here. But I'm sure you'll dismiss what I have to say. Instead you'll take the word of a man who has no educational degree or experience, other than an online degree in weights and measures. In that case, you'll get the poorly educated workforce you deserve. How sad that you've accepted a faulty product, all in the name of defeating the already-weakened unions (this is Idaho, afterall).

P.S. CJW, one who cannot correctly spell the word "confident" has absolutely no business putting down a teacher.

-- Posted by scapegoat on Sun, Oct 28, 2012, at 6:15 PM

I would agree with the Board's recommendations, save and except the one on Fish & Game. There is a segment that the sponsors placed in there that is just wrong. Essentially, it would operate to prevent a State/Federal Court from ruling that Idaho has to recognize the necessity of keeping minimum water flows in place to protect species of our natural fisheries, at least that's their intent. I would vote "NO" on that amendment.

-- Posted by ltngblt on Thu, Nov 1, 2012, at 1:58 PM


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