BOISE -- The battle over education reform in Idaho will continue this week. The House of Representatives is set to possibly send two of the three bills attached to Superintendent Tom Luna's plan to the governor's desk. The teachers' union is promising more demonstrations and there could also be more student walkouts.
Last week saw student walkouts most of the week from around the state, all in protest ofSuperintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna's Education Reform Plan.
But while it looks like a huge number of students, teachers, and parents are against his plan,Luna doesn't necessarily believe they're in the majority.
Sometimes, there's an organized effort to get people to testify and protest, and that doesn't necessarily mean that they represent a majority, Luna said.
Some students we talked to did admit they were only protesting as a means of getting out of class. Luna believes more students would be in support if his plan if they really knew the facts about it.
I met with a group of students yesterday, and they were opposed to these plans, said Luna. So I said, 'Ask me some of your questions.' One of them said, 'Well, you're going to cut our teachers' pay by 15 percent in order to pay for the pay-for-performance plan.' I said, 'No, we're not.' They said, 'Well, that's what I was told.' One of them thought we were eliminating kindergarten to pay for these things. And these are the things that they've been told. So obviously, there is some misinformation out there.
But those behind an entirely student-organized protest on Saturday disagree.
We feel as though it's Tom Luna who's misinformed, said Maddie Hanhardt, one of the protest's organizers. We've read his bills. We've read his plan, and we've seen the interviews he's done with different news outlets. We feel as though we're actually upset with the content of the bills, with the contracts, and the mainstreaming of special needs students in every single classroom around the state.
We're not minions of our teachers, said Heidi Hughes, another organizer of the student protest. We're not robots. We actually are reading. We are actually reading the studies, and we do know what's going on. And we do care, and this is an issue to us.
Protesters we talked to said one of their biggest complaints is what they call a lack of involvement by teachers in the crafting of Luna's plan.
But Luna said educators put together the pay-for-performance and technology elements of his plan, and school board input was used heavily in his labor bill.
The two bills dealing with the elimination of teacher tenure and instituting merit pay are scheduled for a vote in the House of Representatives on Monday.