Opponents of Idaho’s Students Come First education laws launched their campaign Tuesday morning to repeal those laws. Under a banner reading "Vote No On Propositions 1,2, and 3" speakers decried aspects of the three laws.
Mother of four Josi Christensen from Paul, Idaho spoke to the crowd of a few dozen teachers and parents. Christensen says the laws’ focus too heavily on measurement using standardized tests and overemphasize computers and online learning. She says Students Come First turns schools into a factory with her children as the product.
“Just move em through as quickly and as cheaply as possible," she says. "There’s no investment in our education here, they’re just trying to out-turn a product that they’re ready to sell to the consumer, to a company that’s going to buy them when they graduate from high school.”
Organizers of Tuesday's event say it was the beginning of a coordinated effort to convince Idahoans to vote no on the laws in November.
Schools Superintendent Tom Luna and Governor Butch Otter have hired lobbying and public relations firm Veritas Advisors to run the “Vote Yes” campaign. Veritas’s Ken Burgess says the message that his side will take to voters is that getting rid of Students Come First after it has been in place for more than a year will be disruptive to Idaho schools.
“All the classroom technology that’s being deployed would come to a screeching halt." He adds, "money that has been put into place for ongoing professional development for teachers would go away.”
Burgess won’t say what the campaign will look like from his end, but he says it will be unconventional. The future of Students Come First comes up for a vote in November.