With all of the posturing, passion and money spent, its obvious theres a lot at stake for Idahos children.
Idahoans have listened to the commercials, read the literature, but if they really want to know how the Luna laws will affect our children, ask the experts who deliver education every day; teachers.
Proposition 1: Gives school boards unprecedented power to ignore significant educational issues if they do not fall into the areas of salary or benefits. Any issues related to school safety, classroom sizes, school scheduling, teacher preparation time, etc.. will not be negotiated. Karen Echeverria, director of the ISBA, should have noticed many significant changes related to the new collective bargaining arrangement. In the Meridian School District, preparation time at the high school level has been decreased by 50 percent. Teachers now teach seven of eight classes, with over 200 students in a block schedule with only 90 minutes every other day to prepare. This means that each teacher has only 26 SECONDS per student every other day to assess student work, enter grades, prepare lessons, contact parents, etc.. In fact, if the MSD decided to eliminate preparation time completely, there is nothing that the teachers could do to stop it under this policy. Just one example of how our children s education is being compromised!
Proposition 2: Merit pay is a great idea: in theory. Everyone supports paying the best people more than the worst. Unfortunately, the Luna approach to merit pay does not reward teachers on their own individual merit. It provides bonuses to teachers for performance they do not control. This year, I will receive a merit raise based primarily on ISAT scores of ninth-grade students that I dont even teach. Some will get bonuses based on AP or Concurrent Credit participation even though they dont teach any of these classes. Looking at the current merit pay recipients, school demographics seem to determine who gets bonuses, regardless of teacher performance. How does this encourage teachers to strive for excellence when they are not rewarded for their own work? Recent studies reveal many businessess are abandoning merit pay programs because of employee conflicts, decreasing morale and the inability to reward individual performance efficiently.
Proposition 3: College credits paid for by the state: great idea. Laptop computers for kids; an educational nightmare. As a teacher of over 20 years, I can attest that computers used in limited, highly structured environments can be fantastic. Everyday use is a different story, as laptops also provide nearly unlimited distractions for students who will play games, check email, shop, access inappropriate materials, etc.. While filters can reduce this behavior, never underestimate the ability of students to work around these obstacles! Online education courses should be optional, not required. Have campaign contributions from online education providers compromised our system?
Who is better to determine what is in the best interest of your children?
A career politician who has never been a teacher or administrator, has a bachelor's degree in weights and measures from an unaccredited online university, and who has received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from online education providers?
Or career educators, who have dedicated their lives to teaching children, who continue to provide quality services despite reductions in salaries, benefits, and working conditions, and who have been vilified by state leaders for opposing these policies that discount and disrespect them as professionals.
If you really want to know how these laws will affect education: ask a teacher.
If you respect teachers more than politicians: Please vote no on Props 1, 2, & 3.
Mark Snodgrass, a Meridian Republican, is a 20-year teacher who served in the Idaho House of Representatives from 2002 to 2008.