Parents and teachers gathered at the Twin Falls High School Roper Auditorium on Monday evening to discuss their concerns about State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna’s proposed education overhaul.
Luna has proposed increasing the amount of technology in the classroom and paying teachers in part on merit, paid for by reducing teaching positions through attrition and other changes.
The plan, he has said, is in response to a a public school funding system that is no longer sustainable.
Those in attendance Monday debated various aspects of the plan, including a requirement for students in ninth grade and up to take six credits of online course work in that time.
“Idaho tax dollars would be sent to for-profit online vendors out of state,” argued Sawtooth Elementary School teacher Nanette Allen.
Online courses are already offered, and sometimes required, at most colleges and universities. And computer-based learning is only expected to expand.
But parents and teachers at Monday’s meeting suggested the changes were coming too fast, and perhaps now is not the time to implement Luna’s plan.
A ninth-grader’s focus is to have fun and a laptop puts that power in their hands, for example, said Twin Falls High School drama teacher James Haycock.
“We should give laptops to 12th-graders, perhaps. As a community, we need to come up with a plan,” he said.
......Allen also objected to the removal of a safety net for schools that lose students. Rather than maintaining most of a district’s funds for one year after the loss, schools would instead lay off teachers, offering severance packages equal to 10 percent of their contracts, she said.
“This takes funding from the students who are left,” said Allen.
Luna’s plan would phase out tenure for new teachers, instead offering a two-year rolling contract after a three-year probationary period.
Tenure makes it extremely difficult, if not nearly impossible, to fire a poor-performing teacher. But Mike Wilkinson, a student assistant specialist at Robert Stuart Middle School, said teachers would not have the security necessary to settle into the community.
“The plan discourages good teachers from entering or staying in the profession,” he said.
Any change that affects the teachers now cushy positions is the real reason behind any change. The quote that really pissed me off was the drama twit who thinks that 9th graders focus should be on fun. That is the kind of teacher you want teaching your children?
As to Tom Luna, the union thugs have already visited his house.