by Andrew Crisp
Though class wasn't in session at Boise High School today, dozens of teachers, parents and supporters turned out to support a recall effort aimed at Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna's education reform laws.
"Props 1, 2 and 3 hurt our public schools," said Mike Lanza, chairman of the Vote No initiative. "They are bad for parents, teachers and education in Idaho."
Following a petition drive to put the controversial laws to a vote, the group hopes to persuade Idahoans to reject the measures by voting "no" on three ballot initiatives.
"Vote No on Proposition 1, 2 and 3" read the green and white sign hanging behind the podium. The reforms included restructuring teacher contracts, creating a pay-for-performance model and investing in new technology in the classroom, each targeted by the propositions.
Speakers reiterated their opinion that teaching is done best by teachers, not by computers.
"They think of our schools as factories," said Josi Christensen, a parent and PTA member from Paul. "Our teachers as laborers, and our children as the product."
Christensen urged the crowd to reject the "factory model" of education. Fifth grade teacher Sonia Galavis of Nampa said the technology brought to her classroom hadn't helped better education.
"We would have done anything to turn those computing devices into a live, human teacher," she said.
She also said her classroom size had jumped from 27 to 35 students, that her pay had been frozen for four years and that another fifth grade teaching position had been eliminated due to budget constraints.
The "Vote No" campaign hopes to increase fund-raising activities until the initiatives appear on the November ballot. Meanwhile, a group to defend the education reforms endorsed by Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter, "YES! for Idaho Education," launched earlier this month.