Otter urges IACI to help him and Luna save Idaho's 'Students Come First' laws

Dredging my notebook from Monday's meeting of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry I find this:

Gov. Butch Otter asked the state's biggest business lobby to help sustain the victory won by Otter and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna in passing what Luna calls "Students Come First." The three measures passed by the Legislature in 2011 are subject to voter approval or rejection in November, after petitioners gathered over 200,000 signatures on three referendum petitions.

"There are a lot of things that we have accomplished and those things can not be pushed aside," Otter told the group in Sun Valley. "Idaho became one of the first states to reform its education."

Otter said part of the spur for the reform came from business leaders who approached him during his first gubernatorial campaign in 2006. "Your sector came to me and said, 'Butch, we can't hire the product you're turning out of high school because we have to give them classes in remedial math or remedial English or they're just not ready to go to work.'"

In 2011, Otter continued, "With Tom's leadership and your help and a lot of input from you folks we were able to reform an education system...We accomplished that with your help. Now, we need your help to retain that."

The reforms include a merit pay system that is expected to provide bonuses to up to 85 percent of teachers, a mandate for online classes to graduate, laptops for every high school student, barring continuing contracts for teachers and limiting collective bargaining for teachers unions to wages and benefits.

An campaign organized by Otter and Luna, YES! For Idaho Education, formed early this month to raise money and advocate yes votes on the three referendums.

Otter said he takes heart from the defeat suffered by labor unions in Wisconsin, which failed to recall Gov. Scott Walker. Walker scaled back collective bargaining rights for all public employees, excepting police and firefighters, but easily retained his job.

"Let's go forward with success," Otter concluded. "Scott Walker started a pretty good trend that I'd like to see continued here in Idaho."

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Creeps of a feather................

Some call it back scratching. Others call it corruption. Either way it stinks.


If this is such a a great idea, why enlist the money and power of Idaho's largest business lobby?

What stinks

is my 15 year old daughter being indoctrinated by her teachers and coming home to talk me into signing a petition. It took me a long time to explain that tenure isn't a good thing and I had to point out how well she did in the online class she took over the summer because she got a D in algebra at school. At least Gov. Otter is asking for support from adults. And how do you figure corruption? Is it corruption if a Democratic Gov asks for support from unions to?


There is a definite double standard

when it comes to politics on either side. Students should NEVER be asked to get involved in petitions, and any teacher or school official using them in this way should be reprimanded and dealt with.

Why? Students have as much

Why? Students have as much of a right as anyone else in the state to be involved in political activity.

Brainless kids?

I'll bet your dad thought your generation were chowderheads as well.


You fry wants with that?


Those teachers should be fired. However, like in every job and profession, those are the minority. The majority of Idaho's teachers are excellent professionals. I just wish the public would look at the majority instead of the minority. I'm sure every teacher your daughter had didn't act this way.


As a teacher, I agree that it isn't proper to discuss personal politics in the classroom or to get to the parents through their impressionable children... the same goes for religion. Also, I'm glad that your daughter did well in her online class. Not all students get by due to lack of attention, motivation etc. Mind you, the law states that students will take two online clAsses - but they are not required to pass them. hmmm. What a great way to move money from the public sector to the private.

You will all be happy to know that the districts were very strict with teachers who brought politics to the classroom, and those that were identified as indoctrinating children were properly dealt with.

I will, however, have to respectfully disagree with you on the loosely used term of "tenure." The tenure that you speak of is generally reserved for the college level that educates adults who can form their own opinions independent of their parents. This tenure protects the professors to allow for the free exchange of ideas independent of political pressures, again, among adults. That development of critical thinking and expression on non-popular ideas are the basic freedoms that our country rests upon.
Public school k-12 teachers do not retain this right, nor do they retain the "tenure" rights of college professors. The school districts have vetting systems in place for hiring, evaluating, intervening, and removing teachers that do not follow the curriculum, professional practices and responsibilities set by the community.

Meanwhile, Otter and the IACI refer to your children as inferior "products" indicating that education, to them, is an assembly line rather that a safe place to learn, make mistakes, become critical thinkers, and to maximize each individuals potential. That doesn't happen by treating children like widgets, stuffing as many as you can into a classroom (stack 'em deep, teach 'em cheap) and it doesn't happen by treating teachers as pond scum bottom-feeders. Most teachers do not enter the profession to make money but rather to make a difference and there isn't one person in the profession that doesn't want to be recognized for the positive impact that they make on the lives of their students. As a result teaching isn't just a job, it is a career, and it's an identity.

If you truly want your child to be educated by passive people who feel powerless or worthless enough to stand still while politicians attack their profession and identities that they based in study and research and experience, then I hope you get your wish. You are free to design your communities standards as low as you want to go. If you want to allow Luna and Otter to give away education funds to private faceless companies that they haven't developed any real accountability for, then go for it. I hope your 'product' is better than the 'products' that were churned out in the past. And when you want to say "yes" to education, I hope you choose to vote "NO" on propositions 1,2 and 3 in November.

To Hahaha

Excellent comment! Thank you for posting it.

Good for your daughter, but

Good for your daughter, but unfortunately online courses have never been shown to be better by research than other forms of education.

More time to get viruses


You fry wants with that?

Due Process vs. Tenure

Idaho teachers did not have tenure. They had due process. All that meant was that they couldn't be fired without reason. In short, a principal or school board couldn't fire a teacher because he had long hair, practiced a certain religion they didn't like, or etc... Where there are bad teacher there is a string of bad or lazy principals who have not done their jobs in getting that teacher help or in removing the teacher. Yes, there are a few bad teachers out there who should be helped or removed. But Idaho's teaching force is generally very good compared to other states nationally, especially in the Boise School District which exceeds state and national standards. Having looked at several online courses I wonder if your daughter simply got simpler work for an easy grade. The only thing I can agree on is that a teacher should not be asking students, while teaching, to ask parents to sign petitions. What a teacher does from home to express his/her views is their right.

What petitition?

What did it say?
Did you file a complaint with the school?

I don't believe you.

I highly doubt that your 15 year old daughter has been indoctrinated by her teachers. You don't mention specifically what the petition said or what it was even about. I also don't believe your daughter did better in an online algebra class. Most students who take math online need a tutor to get through it.

I have discovered that the pro-reform folks don't seem to mind lying through their teeth to make teachers look bad. I had a man go on and on about how he was a teacher and how easy he had it, etc etc. Come to find out that this man had never taught a day in his life, nor had he ever even worked in a school.

Folks, there are a lot of great teachers in your community. Go talk to them. Ask them how the laws have already changed their schools. Ask them why the believe these laws are bad (or good). Don't ask a bad teacher, seek out the great teachers and ask them!

There seems to be a constant double message

from Otter and Luna. Luna brags about how well Idaho students do and in the next sentence talks about how businesses and universities are complaining that Idaho students are not prepared for the next level, whatever that may be.

Which is it?

Right now they are not prepared....

The laws are just now really going into effect! Get your times right and understand the process, rather than just complaining because you see others complain.

Obviously you know nothing about what has really transpired, and when the changes will have or might be able to have any chance to be successful.

Go ahead...whine a little!

I am not whining, simply commenting on the mixed message

There really is no need to be so rude. I am quite aware of the timeline and the process. If you review my post, you will see I was not commenting on the success or failure of his reform package. I was commenting about the mixed message he continues to give.

Earlier this week, I listened to Mr. Luna give a speech and point out how great Idaho's students rank and how well they are doing. A few minutes later, he talked about how he has heard so many complaints from business and higher education that students don't have the basic skills/knowledge to move on to the next level. Do you not see any contradiction?


How does "laptops for every high school student and limiting collective bargaining for teachers unions to wages and benefits."
help students better understand remedial math or remedial English?

Why aren't the police and firefighters' unions limited, as well. I thought union thugs were the problem. Is it just the teachers' union that's ruining America?

Wouldn't that be..

The Vandersloot Comes First laws?

Using Wisconson

as a boilerplate speaks to their desperation. The Wisconsin recall was voted down because people were specifically against the recall itself, feeling that it wasn't warranted because Walker broke no laws, not because they were anti-union.

Not that I would expect Otter to use facts to support his case.

And maybe next time around, people will elect someone to run the Idaho education system who is actually an educator, not a corporate puppet.

People are not upset at trying to modernize the education system. It's the smarmy political doublespeak and other tactics that got it where it is now.

Ask a teacher

These laws won't improve education. Most teachers I talk to think the primary driver is to help business sell computers to the schools and to enrich private online businesses to get a piece of our tax dollars from the online education requirements.

Want to improve english skills? Get these kids OFF their computers and cell phones. Force them to write essays using full english words with proper capitalizations and punctuations. Force them to write and give speeches in front of their fellow classmates. Those two things will go a long way in the business world. Those two things also cannot be accomplished through computers and an online classroom.

Weak math? Online tutoring can help, but nothing beats good solid instruction in the classroom. A good teacher can work with and explain concepts to students in a way that cannot be accomplished online.

But in order to understand teaching, it helps to have been a teacher. Something that neither Otter or Luna have done.

I have talked to several...

They all agree with some of the least the ones I know, who care about teaching and their students!

Get your facts straight! ONLY THE IEA does not like these laws...most teachers agree tenure, the way it was implemented in Idaho, was VERY BAD!


I don't know who you've been talking to, but every teacher I work with and know thinks these laws should be overturned. This includes me. The IEA only does what the teachers tell it to.

Wow, there are over 3,000

Wow, there are over 3,000 people who like the Facebook page opposed to the Luna laws, and many of them are teachers. Don't know where you are getting your facts.

Facebook is like hates.


You fry wants with that?

Find me a teacher who thinks these laws are good

There may be some aspects that a few teachers like, but I have not found one teacher, public or private that would agree that mandatory online training and distributing laptops will improve education.


has never existed below the university level in any public school in this state. Tenure means the instructor has a guaranteed contract for life, or as long as they want it, or in some cases, for a specified (long) amount of time. The closest thing public elementary and secondary-school teachers have is "continuing contract" status. That means the instructor has a year-to-year contract with the school district with a reasonable expectation that it will be re-offered annually, UNLESS the teacher violates the terms of the contract, violates the Code of Conduct (which has the force of law) or unless the district does away with a teaching position altogether. This is a world away from tenure.

If a district really wants to get rid of a continuing-contract teacher, it takes about six weeks to go through the process by the book, and no professional association can save that teacher. They have nearly no recourse. There's an appeal process, which involves asking the same people who fired you for your job back. There is no provision for outside review, and I have personally seen the process used to dismiss teachers so an administrator can bring personal friends on board. I don't care if the same things happen in the business world. Schools are not businesses.

The district I teach in has roughly 25 certified staff: three of them are IEA members and NONE of them have anything positive to say about this program.

You Hit the Nail on the Head, Spudboy!

The computers and cell phones don't require ANYONE, students and adults alike, to properly use our english language, spelling, grammar, math, etc.; to REALLY help our kids, we need to go back to the 3 R's!!!! Something else not taught by electronics: respect, kindness, good manners, sportsmanship, sharing, and teamwork. Too bad, in some ways, that the country has progressed so much. A little old-fashioned "learning" would be a godsend.


Back to basics would be nice. I'd also be willing to forgo a few laptops if that will bring in some good art programs. Whether that is music, drawing, sculpting or drama, nothing exercises the mind in the same way. That allowance for creativity is essential in helping our kids to learn how to think and problem solve.

Technology is great when applied correctly, but a disaster when mis-used. Some of us came from a generation that sent men to the moon, invented new medical devices and drugs and somehow managed to do all that without a bunch of computers, email, facebook or online learning.

Stop the charade

Since Alex Lebeau and his cabal have taken over IACI there isn't a trace now of impartiality. They are but another arm of the State GOP and should just move into the Capitol. What a sad day for a group that you use to be able to respect.

my daughter's taking online clas*ses this summer

and she was in tears with frustration because it's so unclear what she's supposed to be doing.

I do find it a little amusing that Otter is asking IACI for help

Like they haven't already been working to promote this package? They put a lot of effort to lobbying on behalf of Luna's package to get it passed. Look at their political activity. They are practically Otter's own personal political team.

It is pretty easy for him to ask for their help since he knows they are already on board. He was simply preaching to the choir and asking them for as much "support" (aka campaign contributions) to the "Yes!For Idaho Education" PAC as they can give.

The Otter Legacy

I was there at IACI, and it is true that most of the members of IACI and the committee directing the "Idaho Prosperity Fund" are strong supporters of the Luna Laws. I think some of it is the development of an Otter Legacy (transportation, healthcare and higher education expansion obviously haven't been successful efforts). But there is a serious concern about k-12 success. They really believe that technology and merit pay will help performance. I have not seen data supporting that view.
I think that given the resources Idaho puts into k-12 we get a pretty good return. We are 50th in spending but higher than that when school performance is ranked. Idaho schools are likely a good value.
But things can be better. I spent a day at an elementary school that is 2 years into a 3 year "reculturation" effort. It focuses on teamwork of teachers and administrators and parents. It focuses on students and helping them learn skills for educational (and other) success. It uses availalable tools, and is in a school with a relatively low income area. And has already shown significant improvement in satisfaction of employees, parents and students, in math and reading scores and parental participation. This was not a "charter" school, but part of our public school district, and means to me that if good and caring teachers and administrators are given the tools they need, great things happen.

The key was focusing on the workforce and successful, data driven process change. And it did not involve computers.
By the way, the cost ($25,000 for three years for 300 kids) is likely much less than a technology and on-line push the final 3-4 years of secondary school.
There are other alternative approaches. I suspect that teacher mentors, pre-k and better teacher training in colleges would all help as much or more than laptop distribution, and likely cost less.

Keep the facts in mind

In the coming months you will be bombarded by big business for profit lies. Bottom line, the online for profit big business one percent tycoons are after your tax dollars at the expense of Idaho's young minds. Let's throw in the computer industry which will also make huge profits selling and maintaining laptops.
Fact, those businesses gave businessman Tom Luna over $44,000 in campaign donations as well as Otter and most Republican lawmakers. They bought the laws and the votes that put them on the books.
The laws themselves are not grounded in research. No other state has had any success, only failures, in transitioning to online learning. Idaho goes a step further in requiring all students take online courses guaranteeing profit to out of state companies. The research shows that the online product is inferior in content, help for struggling students, meeting state and federal standards, student teacher ratio, and etc... The only success they have is in lining the pockets of their rich CEO's and wealthy stock holders.
All of the other measures in these three laws are to punish Idaho's teachers and pay for the program. They are union busting measures. They take away due process, not tenure which was never in place. That means that a teacher can be fired for no good reason. If a principal doesn't like the way a teacher looks or their religion, they can be fired. Due process protected teachers. It meant that they could not be fired without just cause. Where there are bad teachers in classroom there is a string of bad or lazy administrators who have not done their jobs. They either have not provided assistance to the teacher or have not gone through the process to remove the teacher.
The laws tie the hands of the teachers' union in negotiating contracts. Why? The answer is, so more money can be funneled into out of state for profit online education companies. Those very companies that bought these three Luna laws and the votes that put them on the books. Idaho already ranks 48th- 50th in terms of teacher pay and the amount it spends on education.
When ranked this low, I have to ask, what union is here to break? It's all about greed folks.
So as this thing heat up as November approaches, remember one big thing. It's all about sacrificing Idaho young minds for profiting the already wealthy businessmen. Overturn the Luna laws and save young minds.

Your laptop course should be Writing for Comprehension


You fry wants with that?