Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Voters to decide fate of ‘Luna laws’

2011 education reforms resurface in Propositions 1, 2 & 3


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

Tom Luna

Voters in Idaho will have the opportunity at the Nov. 6 general election to determine the fate of education reforms introduced in 2011 by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna and enacted into law that same year by the Legislature.

Consideration of the education reforms, sometimes referred to as “the Luna laws,” shows up on the election ballot as Propositions 1, 2 & 3. The Luna laws basically curtailed the bargaining rights of teachers unions, implemented a teacher pay-for-performance system based on student test scores and added a requirement for providing computing devices to Idaho students and a requirement for completion of online courses for high school students.

A vote of yes on Propositions 1, 2 & 3 leaves the Luna laws in place. A vote of no repeals them. A simple majority wins.

The propositions ended up on the ballot through a massive petition drive organized mainly by the Idaho Education Association, the statewide umbrella organization for various school district teachers unions.

When the Luna laws were introduced two years ago, teachers and their supporters in Blaine County and across the state mobilized to prevent the laws from being enacted. There were large demonstrations in Hailey and Ketchum opposing the measures, which were enacted into law as Senate bills 1108, 1110 and 1184.

Proposition 1 addresses Senate Bill 1108, which was sometimes referred to in 2011 as the “union busting bill.” The law limited school district negotiations with teachers unions to salary and benefits only, removed tenure from the decision-making process in the event of staff reductions, tied teacher and administrator evaluations to student academic performance and restricted teacher contracts to one or two years.

Though not specifically stated in the ballot language of Proposition 1, repeal of the law would also allow school districts and teachers unions to resume an earlier practice of negotiating in secret and would make documents generated during the negotiations no longer subject to public disclosure.

Proposition 2 addresses Senate Bill 1110, which implemented a pay-for-performance system that rewarded teachers with bonuses if students scored high on standardized achievement tests. The law was intended to eliminate pay structures based solely upon years of experience and education level.

Proposition 3 addresses Senate Bill 1184, which cut state financial support to school districts with the saved money to go toward purchase of computing devices for Idaho students. The bill further required that students complete at least two online courses to graduate.

The Blaine County School District has taken no position on the propositions. Some teachers in the district have organized phone banks and are urging voters to vote no on all three propositions.


Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com


 

A vote of yes on Propositions 1, 2 & 3 leaves the Luna laws in place. A vote of no repeals them. A simple majority wins.

Propositions

The ballot language for Propositions 1, 2 & 3 can be found at the Idaho Secretary of State’s website at www.sos.idaho.gov. Click on the “Elections, Lobbyists & Campaign Disclosure” tab, then on the “What’s on the General Election Ballot in 2012” link and finally on the “Referenda” link. Arguments for and against the propositions can also be found once the Referenda link is accessed.




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