Education reform bills pass despite vocal opposition

Education reform bills pass despite vocal opposition

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by Jamie Grey

Bio | Email | Follow: @KTVBJamieGrey

Idaho's NewsChannel 7

Posted on March 3, 2011 at 11:30 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 11 at 6:02 PM

BOISE -- In recent weeks and days, it's appeared the opposition to Superintendent Tom Luna's education reform plans has grown, at least if you look at protests, student walk-outs and public testimony.  KTVB asked legislators if that vocal opposition has impacted their votes.

As it stands, two education reform bills are headed to the House floor; the third has stalled in committee.

"We've heard several days of testimony now, largely in opposition to the plan.  Some 10-1 I think in opposition to the plan.  It's the same with the e-mails, the letters that all of us legislators have received," Representative Brian Cronin (D-Boise) said.

"Despite that, today's House Education Committee passed these two bills with not a whole lot of opposition.  I'm troubled by that.  I'm troubled that we're not listening to parents.  We're not listening to educators.  This is a process that's being rammed down people's throats.  There wasn't buy-in from all the stakeholders that participate in education, and as a consequence, we have a plan that isn't going to be implemented very well because people haven't bought in," he said.

On the other side, some legislators who voted in favor of the bills say those who take the route of coming to the Capitol to speak out may not be an accurate representation of the general opinion of Idahoans.
 
"I've talked with a lot of constituents in my district which is in northern Idaho.  We had a townhall meeting last week and there was overwhelming support for what the governor and superintendent are proposing," Representative Bob Nonini (R- Coeur d'Alene) said.

Nonini believes the opposition you see at the Statehouse is largely Treasure Valley - based, that doesn't give an accurate sampling of the entire state's views.  With that he says his vote goes with the views of his district.
 
"I'm glad we were able to oblige all those people that came to speak to the bill.  I'm not sure how much public testimony changed any of the members' minds.  I think we come down here hearing from our constituents before we get to Boise." Nonini said.

"I think the legislature, they've been through this so many times that they know that volume and decibel level does not necessarily equal a majority, and so they know how to balance it." Superintendent Tom Luna said.

Some other legislators, who've voted against the reform bills, remain skeptical that there are a significant amount of supporters.

"I've heard things about this silent majority that's supposedly out there, but they're definitely not speaking up and I don't really believe it," Cronin said.
 

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