The campaign over the Students Come First education overhaul is heating up — centered on the controversial plan to purchase laptop computers for students and faculty.
Opponents have intentionally misled Idahoans with a radio ad that calls a school laptop purchase an "unfunded mandate," according to the Idaho Republican Party.
“If the teachers’ union is willing to delude the truth about the funding of these bills, then we have to question their motives and whether they really have the interest of our youth at heart," state GOP chairman Barry Peterson said in a news release late this afternoon.
At issue is a radio ad that says, in part: "(Proposition) 3 is an unfunded mandate requiring schools spend millions of dollars they don't have on expensive laptops that are all too easily broken by kids when they take them home."
Lawmakers set aside $2.5 million to purchase laptops this fall for every high school teacher. Retiring state Rep. Brian Cronin, D-Boise, a strategist on the campaign to overturn the laws, defended the wording in an Associated Press interview.
"It's a big and expensive program. We've appropriated a tiny bit of money to pay for the first part of it, but we're going to continue to raid the current programs we have to pay for something we probably don't need and is not likely to raise student achievement."
Here's more from Jessie Bonner of the Associated Press. And here is the GOP's news release:
This week, the opponents of Students Come First released a radio ad that intentionally misleads the public and perpetuates myths about the comprehensive education reform laws.
“We are disappointed with the teachers’ union,” said Chairman Barry Peterson. “If the teachers’ union is willing to delude the truth about the funding of these bills, then we have to question their motives and whether they really have the interest of our youth at heart. Gov. (Butch) Otter and Superintendent (Tom) Luna introduced these changes, and the Legislature approved and funded them to improve the quality of education in Idaho schools.”
Despite what the opponents may try to claim, here are the facts: The Students Come First laws are fully funded through new money. The state is not shifting any future funding from salaries to fund pay-for-performance or technology. The Idaho Legislature appropriated $38.8 million in new funding to provide performance bonuses to Idaho’s great hard-working teachers this school year and $2.5 million in new funding to begin deploying laptop devices to teachers and principals in Idaho’s high schools this fall.
“We strongly encourage Idahoans to make sure they know the true facts and vote YES when they head to the polls on Nov. 6!” concluded Chairman Peterson, echoing the sentiment of the party at the state convention.