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Education Rallies Held Around State

100 empty chairs sat on the band shell in Twin Falls City Park yesterday. The chairs represented what teachers and supporters of the Idaho Education Association say is a threat to education in Idaho. The chairs were part of just one of the many rallies that took place across Idaho. Thousands of people turned out across the state to ask lawmakers to rethink their support for Idaho superintendent Tom Luna’s education reform plan. Luna’s plan would require high school students to take four online courses, introduce merit pay for teachers and end tenure for new teachers.  It would also eliminate about 770 teaching positions. The IEA says that more than 90 percent of Idahoans are against Luna’s education reforms, yet just last week the Senate Education Committee voted to send all three bills of the reform plan to the full Senate. Luna has said the changes are necessary to educate more students at a higher level with limited resources. He says the current system is not sustainable and that educating students for the 21st century using a 19th century model doesn’t make sense. But the demonstrators say the reform plan is an attack on fair treatment for Idaho teachers and would reward an extensive network of campaign contributors and corporations. The Senate is expected to take up the measure this week.

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