Printed on: October 05, 2012

I'm voting 'Yes'

Kathy Stanger
Local columnist

All three voter propositions concerning the Students Come First plan are worthy of your support, writes Kathy Stanger.Ever have a child take your face in both hands and force you to pay attention? Well, the schoolchildren of Idaho just did that to me. I have been consumed with the issues of the presidential campaign and the incredible sloppiness of the mainstream media to the point that nothing else was making much of an impression.

Until now.

My attention was caught by the sheer volume of negative ads regarding the challenged educational propositions and why we should vote "No" on each one. I don't watch a lot of television, but I have been inundated with ads. I keep asking myself: "Where is all that money coming from?"

Even though I am not a professional educator, I have been heavily involved in public education for many years, being one of the founding members of the Excellence in Education Association with its offshoots, foundations in both local school districts. When I ran for the Idaho state Senate several years ago, I was enlisted and supported by the Idaho Education Association because of that involvement. Thus, it will surprise no one that I have an opinion on the value of these propositions to our state's children and teachers.

Proposition 3: Laptops in the classroom is a no-brainer. If ever there was a generation of children prepared for this step, it is the current one. The ability to personalize learning, to provide greater opportunities to small, distant districts, and to enable students to advance into university classes while still in high school are outstanding selling points. Computers no more replace teachers than textbooks do. It is an educational enhancement whose time has come. I'm voting "Yes."

Proposition 2: Regarding teacher evaluation, I recognize that a fair and attainable method is the key, but it is far past time for local school boards and administrators to be able to enforce performance standards -- just as other professions do -- without bankrupting the district. Knowing that this element was implemented with the support and suggestions of actual classroom teachers makes me more confident in its implementation. I continue to anticipate a time when our teachers are paid commensurate with their great contribution in our lives, but until then, I support these bonuses. I'm voting "Yes."

Proposition 1: American history records the badly needed and highly effective role of unions in finding fairness in the workplace, but in many areas -- particularly public schools -- this is past history. Even liberal education supporters have arrived at the conclusion that teachers' unions now stand in the way of desperately needed reforms, and the very fact that the IEA is so heavily invested in defeating these reform measures is proof enough of its needed demise. I'm voting "Yes."

Please join me.

Stanger is a freelance writer and community activist.