Ed tech vs. larger class sizes: Worth the trade-off?

This pay-for-performance plan was first crafted in 2009 as part of Idaho’s bid for $75 million or more in competitive education grants under the federal government’s Race to the Top program. The plan gives school districts some flexibility in rewarding teachers, allowing measures other than standardized tests.

While the Idaho Education Association (IEA) had some input on the pay-for-performance plan when it was created for the Race to the Top application, other measures under Luna’s overhaul might be harder for the IEA to digest.

The plan would eliminate tenure for new teachers, for instance, and instead offer them two-year rolling contracts.

Also, collective bargaining agreements between teachers and school districts would expire at the end of each fiscal year and would be limited to salaries and benefits under the proposal.

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“I am very concerned about the fact that we want effective teachers and we want them more actively involved in their profession, but yet we’re going take away their ability to discuss at the bargaining table things like parent-teacher conferences, what professional development they need, [and] how students are graded,” said IEA President Sherri Wood. “All of those things are discussed in negotiations.”

The plan also would eliminate provisions that allow Idaho school districts that lose students to hold onto 99 percent of the state funding that came with that student for another year, saving an estimated $5.4 million.

To help pay for ed tech, the plan proposes increasing the students-per-classroom ratio from 18.2 to 19.8 over the next five years, saving about $100 million. The union rejected Luna’s suggestion that educational technology, including electronic student response systems he passed around at the hearing, would help ease the burden of increased class sizes.

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