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Embattled Idaho School Superintendent may lose his job

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Idaho has completed a clean sweep of its public school system this year.  The debate that resulted was heard on both coasts.  The bureaucrat who coordinated the changes might be getting ready to pay the price.

Across the country state legislatures have revised education policy.  These policy changes have triggered protests from teachers who are concerned about their eroding collective bargaining rights as well as their pay.

According to the Center on Education Policy in Washington D.C., Idaho, under Luna's direction, has made some of the most comprehensive changes.

While Luna's truck was spray-painted in his driveway and his tires slashed, hundreds of angry teachers, parents, and students crammed into the halls of the state house, in Boise, and are ready to throw him out of office.

The main issue that is polarizing education , and citizens, in Idaho is a new education package that eliminates teacher tenure and cuts their pay while providing every high school student with a laptop computer.

Luna is also arguing for making online courses a requirement for students to graduate while many educators say it will increase class sizes and take taxpayer money and ship it to for-profit, out of state, companies.

A referendum to repeal three of the measures will be on the November 2012 ballot thanks to the effort of a group of parents, and teachers, who met the deadline for turning in signatures.  More than 72,000 persons signed each of three petitions seeking a public referendum on the issues.

Another bone of contention for the parents and teachers is Luna's silence on his plans during his campaign for a second term.

"Nobody knew this was coming," said Michael Lanza, a parent, and organizer, of the petitions to repeal Luna's efforts.

Another problem that Luna has facing him is his resume.  He has a bachelor's degree from an online college which borders dangerously close to being a degree mill.  Before his stint as Superintendent of Public Schools he was president of a truck scale company.  Luna has never taught a day in the classroom or been a principal. He has however served on education boards.

Comparison of internal documents seems to indicate that nothing in Luna's new rules are original. Close exanination suggested that he boosted parts of his plan from the failed policies of former District of Columbia schools chief, Michelle Rhee.

Rhee, who became nationally known for shutting down schools and firing hundreds of teachers, was found to be ineffective and she stepped down last year under withering criticism.

While Luna says he never met Rhee, he does admit to being a devotee of hers and what she accomplished. 

"You have a group of people that think I have no business being involved in education," Luna told the Idaho Statesman, "And then when we put something that a majority of the Legislature approves and it becomes law in Idaho and then they think, well, he must have stolen it from somebody. Like I'm not capable of an original thought, or an original idea."

 

http://www.journeyamerica.org

Jerry Nelson is a nationally recognized photojournalist. His work has appeared in a wide variety of publicaitons and news outlets including USAToday, CNN, Upsurge, CBS, Dream Row, Earthwalkers and others. He photographs and licenses images for all manner of commercial and editorial use as well as (more...)
 

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