The preceding comment from Frank L. Vandersloot, founder of Melaleuca Inc., a multi-million dollar company based in Idaho Falls, Idaho, appeareed in a full-page newspaper ad Sunday, February 6, 2011 (Idaho State Journal, A7)
With such praise, why then is Mr. Vandersloot supporting legislation (proposed by State Superintendent Tom Luna) that would return Idaho teachers to the primitive working conditions of the early 1970's? Simply, Mr. Vandersloot's hate of the IEA (Idaho Education Association) far outweighs his love of teachers. He infers as much in his ad. More about that later.
While campaigning for a second term last fall, Mr. Luna cast himself as the savior of Idaho's school system; he claimed his policies had increased student achievement that Idaho is an innovator in education; now he and his supporters, including Mr. Vandersloot, castigate Idaho schools and teachers: "Governor Otter's and Superintendent Luna's plan, Students Come First, will transform a system that has been broken for decades," claims the Melaluca ad.
Opposed to the Luna plan, my district's school board and Superintendent Mary Vagner penned a white paper addressing the myriad flaws in the proposed legislation. Among the key points:
- The state has historically shown an inability to fund what may have been termed at one point either “reforms” or basic services. The paper lists 13 failed funding measures enacted by the legislature.
- The reform based legislation does nothing to address the cost increases that school districts will be forced to absorb just to open their doors next fall with or without various staffing levels. In my building one of the huge expenditures would be wiring the school to support the proposed technology mandates.
- The legislation itself is insulting in its title, thinking that any one of the school boards in this state would not put children first. The full title of the proposed legislation is Students Come First – Labor Relations and Employee Entitlements and Public School Modernization and Reform. Rather than modernization, I characterize the legislation as Draconian.
- The legislation ignores best practices based on research and piloting of reforms. Mr. Luna provided no opportunity for input and consideration of the "reforms" he offers.
- Merit Pay doesn't work: Studies report the attempts made to implement such practices and the subsequent failures of the practices are due to the lack of sustainable funding and objective measures upon which to make pay for performance decisions.
- Further, as a school board there is a legitimate concern about the nature of pay for performance promoting competition rather than collaboration and cooperation among staff with a concern that staff members may be pitted against each other for the dollar.
- This legislation appears again to erode the duties of Trustees and puts most
- Damaged relationships with employees, community and parents
- Deterioration of instructional time for students without teachers
- Lack of accountability and quality control for student achievement
- School buildings do not have the capacity to run the technology investment in either a wireless platform or an electrical platform
- Student behavior management issues will be evident without teacher supervision
- Technology “haves” and “have nots” will still exist due to a lack of internet access for all students outside of the school day.