UPDATED, 5:35 p.m., with Luna statement.
The group seeking a referendum on State Superintendent Tom Luna's "Students Come First" laws say they have enough signatures to force a November 2012 vote on the three laws.
Organizers say they will continue seeking signatures, however, before turning in petitions to Secretary of State Ben Ysursa's office on June 6.
Organizers are required to collect signatures from 47,432 Idahoans in order to place the referenda on the statewide ballot.
Said Luna Wednesday afternoon: "We knew the referendum was a possibility, but I remain confident that a majority of Idahoans support education reform in Idaho."
Here's the group's news release:
Idaho citizens are eager to have a chance to vote on the three education laws passed by the Idaho Legislature. That's the message sent by more than 48,000 citizens who have signed each of the three petitions to put the laws to referendum votes next year.
"We are announcing today that we have passed 47,432 verified signatures for each of the three petitions," said Mike Lanza, chair of Idahoans for Responsible Education Reform. The parent-led committee initiated the petition drives on April 8 and the Idaho Education Association joined the coalition a week later.
"We're still collecting signatures because we know that many Idahoans still want to sign the three petitions," Lanza added. "We know that people don't want to see the larger class sizes, layoffs and unfunded technology mandates that these laws are already causing."
"Our members have joined with parents and other working Idahoans to collect these signatures in just 40 days," said IEA President Sherri Wood. "Unfortunately, we won't have a chance to vote on the laws until November 2012, but by then, Idahoans will have seen ample evidence on just how damaging these laws are."
County clerks offices across Idaho continue to verify signatures. Organizers will deliver the petitions to the Secretary of State's office in Boise on Monday, June 6. The petitions will not be officially qualified until the Secretary of State's office reviews them.
And here, in full, is Luna's response:
We knew the referendum was a possibility, but I remain confident that a majority of Idahoans support education reform in Idaho. Repealing these laws would mean a return to the status quo, where the hands of local school boards are tied, educators receive tenure, the state distributes retirement bonuses, every teacher is paid the exact same, staffing decisions are made solely based on seniority, and classrooms remain stuck in the 20th century. This isn’t the answer to the challenges we face in education today. The burden of proof should be on those who want to defend the status quo, not on those who want to change it.