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

“I don’t quite understand the trade-off,” Wood said. “You’re going to give a teacher a ‘clicker,’ and yet you’re going to load more students into their classroom.”

The plan would eliminate about 770 teaching positions over the next five years as more students take online courses and classroom sizes increase.

The state’s education officials say about 1,600 teachers leave the public education system each year for a variety of reasons, including retirement or a new job, and Luna said he believes the state can absorb the 770-position loss through attrition.

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Several lawmakers on the panel lauded Luna for his innovations, with Senate Education Committee Chairman John Goedde calling the education reform plan “the most comprehensive package I’ve seen in a while” and cautioning that it could take lawmakers some time to sort through all the details.

Other highlights of Luna’s plan:

• If high school students meet all their graduation requirements by their junior year, the state would pay for them to earn college credit while completing their senior year.

• Teachers would be able to receive bonuses for taking on hard-to-fill and leadership positions.

•Parents would have input on teacher evaluations, which also would factor in student achievement growth.

• Idaho colleges and universities could be authorized to operate charter schools.

• The state would publish a fiscal report-card for each school district.

• Salary negotiations between districts and teachers would be held in open public meetings, and the master agreements they sign would be available online.

• Students would have the flexibility to take online courses without permission from their school district.

• A first-year teacher’s starting salary would raise from $29,655 to $30,000.

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