Luna defends Props

BLACKFOOT — State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna explained the history of Props 1, 2, 3 and took questions regarding these propositions at the Bingham County/District 31 Republican Central Committee Thursday evening.
Thirty-one people attended this meeting.
In explaining the history of Props 1, 2 and 3, said Luna. "A plan is better than abcense of a plan."
Thirty states have passed educational reform, he said. This is a renaissance about public education.
"The debate isn't if we have good schools," the superintendent said. "Idaho is blessed with good schools and blessed with good teachers.
"The question is whether good is good enough," Luna said. "Our children will compete on a global level.
In Idaho, 50 cents of every dollar goes to K-12, he said. At the height of the recession in 2011, the state budget went from $3.3 billion to $2.2 billion.
"The money just evaporated," Luna said. "Not one source of revenue went up [in 2011].
"[During this time], we learned that public schools are dependent on new money," Luna said.
The foundation of Students Come First is high academic standards and advanced opportunities, he said. The object is to have our students career ready and college ready.
If students finish their credits for high school graduation, they can take college credits at the state's expense.
If students have 12 or more college credits or if they have taken a college entrance exam, they are more likely to go on to higher education, Luna said. It's not just college includes a certificate—some kind of post secondary education.
Regarding pay for performance, Luna said, "Eight out of 10 teachers have received bonuses of over $2,000 last year.
"We finally can say thank you for a job well done," he said. "Pay for performance has brought about collaboration, focus and performance.
"More and more, teachers are seeing pay for performance as incentive; that it rewards hard work," Luna said.
Students Come First also offers transparent accountability. The public can see a school district's fiscal report card and open negotiations. Patrons can observe and watch how their tax dollars are used.
This has been going on for two years now, Luna said. Under this law, all negotiations are handled in open public meetings. Board members report the negotiations are more civil, more productive and shorter.
Regarding Prop 3, technology is organic, the superintendent said. "It's just happening. Technology offers equal access to opportunity.
"There's no stopping it," he said. Eighty-five percent of the school districts in Idaho volunteered to be part of the first wave of of those districts who will receive laptops.
He pointed laptops would not go home with students unless school districts made this decision.
Called hot swap, students could turn in their computer if it is not operating well and it would be returned to them in 24 hours.
Parts of the Students Come First law, such as pay for performance, were first introduced in 2006, Luna said. "We fell a few votes shy and pay for performance was not implemented at that time.
It has been reworked since then.
"We expected opponents of this plan to introduce their own plan," he said. "No competing plan has been introduced.
"If these propositions are defeated, we go back to the system we had two years ago," said Luna.