DISRUPTION? SOME CALL IT DEMOCRACY
Idaho Superintendent of Schools Tom Luna complains that a possible voter overturn of his Students Come First reform plan will be a “disruption.”
For a definition, check for synonyms under “democracy” in the household dictionary. Or online.
Americans have been disruptive since the original Tea Party. That colonists might object to a tax on their beverage seems not to have occurred to the British Parliament.
So too, apparently, with the reforms enacted by the Idaho Legislature in 2011 that prompted a drive that collected the requisite signatures on three repeal measures in just a little more time than it took the founders to ink the Declaration of Independence.
Students Come First constricted collective bargaining for teachers, implemented a merit-pay system, and mandated computer-only classes for high school seniors.
Rewarding better teachers and familiarizing every student with online education resources are good ideas. The Idaho Education Association was on board with pay-for-performance before the Legislature moved to fund potential raises by reducing pay for all teachers. That, and shifting more dollars to technology while restricting teacher negotiations to pay and benefit issues only — with no more money on the table — has utterly soured teacher relationships with Luna and legislators who supported the “Luna Laws.”
Adding to the resentment: A follow-up measure that implemented the reforms on an emergency basis instead of holding off until the Nov. 6 election. That’s kind of a disruption, isn’t it?
Trust Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa to have a little more perspective. His comment to Northwest Cable News when the signatures were submitted:
“Obviously we have the state Legislature, but we also have the people who have reserved for themselves legislative power to reject legislation, that’s the referendum. That’s the people’s right to legislate, and that’s on equal footing with the Legislature’s right to legislate.”
OUR SCHOOL SYSTEM MUST MEET NEEDS OF OUR EMPLOYERS
Moscow-Pullman Daily News
Two recent events made it abundantly clear those who make the decisions about education and those who fund them must be ready to meet the high-tech needs of employers.
Former President Bill Clinton, near the end of his nominating speech for President Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention, acknowledged the nation needs lots of new jobs, But he also noted “there are already more than 3 million jobs open and unfilled in America today, mostly because the applicants don’t have the required skills.”
Clinton blamed escalating costs of higher education requiring students to borrow more, and noted that in many cases, that debt load contributes to the dropout rate.
That wasn’t just campaign rhetoric. Much of the U.S. educational system lags behind the needs of business, especially in the technical fields.
It’s a need felt on the Palouse as well.
Steve Peterson, a University of Idaho clinical assistant professor of economics, presented the results of an economic impact study of the area to the Port of Whitman County Commissioners.
Peterson, who co-authored the study, singled out Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories as “really showing what the wave of the future is.”
SEL, which manufactures electrical relays, has experienced “jaw-dropping” growth that has allowed it to surpass Clearwater Paper in Lewiston as the region’s largest private employer.
SEL’s growth includes a new manufacturing presence in Lewiston and additional capabilities at its Pullman headquarters. The company is looking to hire hundreds to fill its needs in the near future. And many of those jobs will require some basic knowledge of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Local schools, including the universities, are no strangers to the benefits of a STEM education. They can’t push out enough graduates with solid STEM backgrounds, and that’s unfortunate given the availability of high-tech jobs on the Palouse.
Technology has become an integral part of our daily lives whether we like it or not. It’s pretty clear where our education priorities should lie.