The leaders of Idaho Parents and Teachers Together said Thursday they hope Idaho leaders will not try this winter to bring back elements of the Students Come First laws voters rejected in November, but instead establish a broad-based task force that would come up with fresh ideas in time for the 2014 Legislature.
Any attempt to resurrect these policies would demonstrate an extreme disregard for the will of voters, and we will not stand by quietly and accept it, Idaho Parents and Teachers Together co-founders Mike Lanza and Maria Greeley said.
Gov. Butch Otter said last week a new poll results of which have not been released indicates Idahoans still support some aspects of the reform, and he will champion restoring pieces of the three education reform laws after lawmakers convene Jan. 7. Idaho Schools Superintendent Tom Luna has said some parts of Students Come First, such as state funding for high school students to earn college credit for online courses, remain popular and will likely rise again.
Luna and Otter also have advocated collaboration toward new education reform ideas, as do Lanza and Greeley.
They endorse Otters proposal for a broad-based task force to study the issues and said that panels research and talks should stretch beyond the 2013 session. Otter spokesman Jon Hanian said details of a possible task force will be discussed at Otter's State of the State address, if not before.
Hanian said he could not discuss details of the proposal now, but "we're going to get everybody to the table."
Lanza said the only urgent Students Come First issue for the Legislature this winter is to distribute the approximately $22 million in state funding allocated for Students Come First measures this fiscal year but placed in limbo once the laws were repealed. Idaho Parents and Teachers Together advocates that money be distributed among the states school districts so they have the funds they budgeted for when the laws were still in place.
Districts need to be made whole financially, Lanza said. The rest of this can be put on hold.