BOISE – Wednesday morning it looked as though all three of the controversial education reform laws in Idaho would be repealed by voters.
While the exact numbers have yet to be finalized, the votes appear heavily stacked against Propositions 1, 2 and 3 dealing with teacher collective bargaining, teacher merit pay, and technology in the classroom.
Some are calling the vote a historic event for Idaho.
“As the evening wore on it had to become a matter of deep concern to the GOP leadership,” said Dr. David Adler, Director of the Boise State University Andrus Center of Public Policy.
Props 1, 2 and 3 became one of the most watched election issues in Idaho Tuesday night -- especially for Idaho's education chief, Tom Luna.
“It will be very disruptive if they are overturned,” Luna said shortly before the results were in.
As the ballot numbers rolled in Tuesday night, other proponents of the laws admitted they were disappointed.
First Lady Lori Otter's comments at Republican headquarters sent a wave of dissatisfaction over the opposing side gathered at their own event across town.
“I think the other side did an amazing job of making it an emotional issue,” Otter said Tuesday evening.
Those gathered at the Vote No Campaing could be heard loudly booing.
Maria Greeley, with the “Vote No Campaign” was just your average parent, before starting taking on the mission to try and change Luna’s education reform laws.
“I am not into politics, but politics were brought into my children's classroom so as a mother I got engaged,” she said Tuesday.
The "Vote No Campaign" also found momentum as more support poured in.
“It says is that this is the number one issue on the ballot here, and that people really are concerned about the direction of public education in the state,” said co founder of the “Vote No Campaign” Brian Cronin.
Dr. Adler said Idaho's failed education propositions will certainly catch the attention the country will soon take notice of Idaho's historic election.
“I think this will be closely watched. You can imagine that networks will want to probe this to try and determine what accounts for this rebuke to the GOP leadership,” Adler said.
Regardless of the outcome of the election, Adler said, there is work to be done, to make Idaho students truly come first.
“The reality is that as these measures go down, it will still be necessary for the legislature to reexamine these reforms to try and find out what parts might be saved,” he said.
Late Wednesday morning Luna released this statement in lieu of any on-camera interviews:
I still believe that Idahoans want better schools through education reform. I still believe that empowering local school boards, phasing out tenure, giving parents input on evaluations, helping students take dual credit, paying teachers for more than just years of experience and amount of education, and making sure every classroom is a 21st Century Classroom are critical if we want an education system that meets the needs of every child. We have now had a 22-month discussion about what this should look like. I understand Idahoans have expressed concerns, yet I do not believe any Idahoan wants to go back to the status quo system we had two years ago. I am as committed as anyone to finding a way to make this happen. We must find a way because our children’s future is at stake.
Governor Otter also issued a statement Wednesday:
The people have spoken, so I’m not discouraged. That’s how our system works. But it’s important to remember that the public conversation that began almost two years ago isn’t over – it’s only begun. Our workforce, our communities and most of all our students still deserve better, and our resources are still limited. We offered these reforms not because we sought change for change’s sake, but because change is needed to afford our young people the opportunities they deserve now and for decades to come. That’s as true today as it was yesterday, so our work for a brighter and better future continues.