This letter went to all of Idaho's legislators:
The Idaho Freedom Foundation (IFF) urges the Legislature to pass Senate Bill 1184, the third part of Superintendent Tom Luna’s “Students Come First” public education reform plan. Smart use of technology has made every other sector of society more efficient and effective. Senate Bill 1184 will make Idaho one of only a few states expecting the same efficiencies and effectiveness from the public education sector.
IFF is strongly in favor of increased government transparency at all levels. Therefore we look forward to the fiscal report cards for districts posted at the Department of Education’s website. We also look forward to seeing local school district budgets and teacher union master agreements posted at every school district website in Idaho. In fact, our efforts over the last year to grade school district transparency led directly to these changes in policy.
IFF supports the technology elements of the bill. Mobile computing devices for teachers and students, technical professional development for teachers, and the integration of technology into school curricula will give public schools the tools that have been enjoyed for years by professionals in other vocations. The bill provides equal opportunity for students whose parents cannot afford the latest portable wireless devices. It provides for the development of online learning which is used every day at post-secondary institutions and in the real world.
This will give Idaho students the blended education needed to succeed in life. Young people have been playing with technology for many years; it's time for schools to teach them how to work with it as well.
The bill improves and modernizes education funding. Over the last year, IFF has shone the light of transparency on many bad state education policies that waste millions of Idaho tax dollars annually. IFF education policy experts unearthed some awful state laws that will be repealed or amended by this legislation. The bill will reduce double funding for the Idaho Digital Learning Academy and create provisions for fractional funding for online courses. IFF has argued for these changes and state education policy leaders have responded to us. The improvements in state law that we see in Senate Bill 1184 prove the legislature cares about spending tax dollars wisely.
IFF believes the choice before lawmakers is not whether to maintain the education status quo or cut; the choice is whether to cut or to change. With the passage of Senate Bill 1108, the Local School Boards Empowerment bill and Senate Bill 1110, the Pay for Performance bill, the legislature has already moved public education forward. Senate Bill 1184 says public education can live up to real-world standards and enact real-world efficiencies. IFF supports that concept.
With one out of ten Idahoans out of work, Idaho taxpayers want to know their lawmakers are closely watching every dollar. Idaho families who are going through tough times appreciate this effort to spend tax money more intelligently while not increasing our tax burden. Especially now, Idaho taxpayers and voters are counting on our legislators to do the right thing and vote "yes” on Senate Bill 1184.