Proposals show disrespect to voters
As a teacher, what stings and hurts most about the Idaho Legislature's resurrection of some of the "Education Attack Laws" is the blatant, continued disrespect being displayed. Disrespect directed not only at the educators of Idaho, but at every voter, every citizen, every parent, every grandparent, and every great grandparent, because the people of Idaho voted down Props 1, 2, 3, realizing that these laws were never intended to put our Students First.
The attempt to revive these rejected laws makes me seriously wonder: Whom do our legislators really serve? Do they really believe this is serving the will of the people of Idaho?
I realize education is just one factor the Legislature has to manage, but do our legislators think they were voted into office to repeat the same multimillion dollar mistakes which were overturned in November 2012 when voters rejected Propositions 1, 2, 3?
If you want your legislators to respect your vote and your voice regarding Props 1, 2, 3, I would encourage you to let them know by phoning, emailing and/or writing a letter to each of them. http://legislature.idaho.gov/howtocontactlegislators.htm
BRENDA ANGEL, Nampa
Politicians create broken system
Politicians (who have never been in a classroom) are undermining our schools and it is failing. Teachers are leaving the profession in droves. Students opt out of this political system by dropping out and not attending college. The politicians blame teachers for this mess and set up "pay for performance" standards that they themselves could never meet and pat themselves on the back for "no child left behind."
Attending the education hearing at the Statehouse, I understood this. Republican politicians have forced teachers to participate in a mindless system of standardized tests. These tests are sold by companies that make big donations to Republican campaigns and reap profits from selling the tests. Students and teachers deal with these mindless exercises to the detriment of both. They have created an education system that is as dysfunctional as our political system.
By a wide majority, Idaho voted down the Luna Laws. What are the Republican politicians doing? They are bringing up the same laws and giving the electorate the finger. They know better than the voters.
As long as we keep electing the same idiots the cycle starts over again. The answer to our education mess is to elect different politicians.
ANDY HEDDEN-NICELY, Boise
Superintendent misses the mark
As a teacher in the Meridian School District with 40 years of experience in public schools, I strongly disagree with Dr. Clark's guest opinion. Simply, she wants to cut salaries, dictate working conditions and assignments, then turn around and blame educators for the sorry state of our schools.
I have a much better proposal for negotiations. Since teachers are far better trained in understanding education than are the members of the board, they should negotiate in good faith with them. However, if there is no agreement by June, then the teacher's last best offer would become the contract. If the ISBA does not like my proposal, then they surely would understand why educators do not see their bill as having any resemblance to a negotiation process.
Schools are not a business. Students are not widgets. Teachers are artists with a great deal of dedication, pride, and potential. When given a chance, teachers can create great things in the classroom, but when shackled, results are compromised.
These ISBA proposals are bad for schools, bad for teacher/board relations, bad for student achievement, and bad for morale.
It's just another example of the bash, cut and blame philosophy of Idaho politicians.
WARREN F. TOURANGEAU, Boise
Look beyond selfish interests
"We can, whenever and wherever we choose, successfully teach all children whose schooling is of interest to us; we already know more than we need to do that; and Whether or not we do it must finally depend on how we feel about the fact that we haven't so far." - Ronald Edmonds (Research for Effective Schools, 1935-1983)
At the education listening session recently, I felt like I was witness to the "Me" generation producing its next generation. But one upside of the "choice for charters movement" demonstration was to hear them explain to the education committees why they left their regular public schools.
I heard: teacher's hands are tied; the curriculum is too rigid, boring, consists mainly of lectures and testing; the classrooms are over-crowded, there is bullying, disrespect, and a general lack of a positive learning environment; plus, too many parents appear indifferent.
Given the chance and the resources, we could choose to stop patching and start fixing all those things within the existing public schools. Ronald Edmonds also believed that improving education for poor children would improve education for all children. We need to look beyond ourselves for a change. We do have a choice.
VICTORIA M. YOUNG, DVM, Caldwell
Early education pays dividends
Beth Oppenheimer's letter in the Feb. 7 Statesman hit the nail on the head.
Legislators interested in future improvement in education and the economy in Idaho should take heed.
Other than the obvious benefit to society of a well-educated citizenry, investment in early childhood education pays off big-time by improving a child's chance for success in school and subsequently becoming a productive member of society.
It's time we began to understand the connection between funding early childhood education, success in later years in school, the job market, and robust economic development. Educators know this, but the word hasn't yet reached our lawmakers. The result is really the same as preventative health care: an eventual payoff far exceeding the initial investment.
BILL MATTOX, Boise
Catholic schools create useful model
What if Idaho would fund all public schools so that they would be like the Boise Catholic schools (Statesman Feb. 1)? Mr. Luna and the Legislature have reduced education funding thus overcrowding classrooms, overloading, demoralizing and emasculating teachers, forcing them to compete against each other for monetary reward and to teach to tests, making them work in rundown buildings with minimal equipment. Does this negligence matter?
Yes! Look at the Catholic schools - 98-plus percent go on to college, 80-plus percent receive merit-based scholarships. Test scores rank in the top 10 percent in the country. Over 70 percent are involved in activities and win championships.
How? According to the article, they do it through small class sizes, personal attention, exceptional teachers, etc. Do those things matter? Apparently not to the leaders in our state because they'd rather siphon money from the education budget to finance other pet projects.
What do we want from our schools - the first scenario or the second one? How can we have the second one? Certainly not by continuing to take money from education. Not with a superintendent who has no passion to see our public schools emulate the Catholic schools. Nor with leaders who will not wholeheartedly support students and teachers.
LOIS MORGAN, Boise
ALEC doesn't work for the children
Perhaps you haven't heard that ALEC has come to Idaho? ALEC (American Legislative Executive Council) claims to be a nonprofit charity and one of its missions is to "improve education."
But don't be fooled. This national organization of businesses and legislators brought us the Luna laws of 2012. Its interest is in influencing our legislators to pass laws to benefit corporations. For example, for out-of-state businesses to sell computers to Idaho schools.
And "Improving our schools" is only one of ALEC's goals. ALEC brings model legislation in nine subject areas to selected states. Its stated goals sound admirable. But please take a minute to Google ALEC, read about the corporate power and money behind this organization.
CAROL WIENS, Boise
Pilot program produces results
Idaho's education reform should focus on improving the quality of my children's education. It is distressing that ISBA would submit replicas of legislation voters soundly defeated. This shows blatant contempt for Idaho voters and disinterest in the work of our governor's education task force.
Major changes in Idaho education are being implemented in the form of Common Core. My son is experiencing Common Core in a pilot program at North Junior High, and I believe it has great potential to increase the quality of student learning, critical thinking and writing skills, and ability to compete in the modern workplace.
Common Core represents a nationwide shift in education, and Idaho teachers have participated in hours of training as part of this revolutionary approach. Educators are working to reform education in Idaho - legislators should work to support the experts in the field.
Improve technology without replacing teachers with questionable for-profit online classes. Support those trained and educated to teach, rather than treating them as the enemy. Provide funding for textbooks, supplies, maintenance, busing and other necessary components of quality schools. Make Idaho a place our children can be proud to call home; where they may find jobs that support a family.
LISA DEAN-ERLANDER, Boise