A day after it was confirmed that enough signatures have been collected to put Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna’s education reform plan on the ballot and Bill Davis, president of the Pocatello Education Association, says he will continue to gather more signatures.
On Wednesday, the minimum required amount of 48,000 signatures — per bill — was met.
The original goal, set forth by members of the Idaho Education Association who are leading the referendum effort, was to obtain 60,000 signatures per bill.
“(Luna) can challenge the validity of the signatures,” Davis said. “So, we want to make sure that we have an ample amount of signatures to protect ourselves from the possibility of a negative outcome.”
Luna remains confident that a majority of Idahoans support his “Students Come First” education reform plan.
In a news release, Luna responded by saying: “Repealing these laws would mean a return to the status quo, where the hands of local school boards are tied, educators receive tenure, the state distributes retirement bonuses, every teacher is paid the exact same, staffing decisions are made solely based on seniority, and classrooms remain stuck in the 20th century. This isn’t the answer to the challenges we face in education today. The burden of proof should be on those who want to defend the status quo, not on those who want to change it.”
Within a matter of days, it will be confirmed as to whether or not the three bills under Luna’s education reform plan will be voted on by the people during the general election in November of 2012.
“I celebrated a little bit yesterday and then I went back to collecting signatures,” Davis said. “It’s just untrue that anyone with the IEA are opposed to reform like Luna is asserting, but we definitely have a set of requirements that need to be met for reform to be successful.”
Davis will be collecting signatures up until June 1.
Booths will be set up at the Pocatello Farmer’s Market and at Tendoy Elementary on Saturday, May 28.
Once the deadline passes, Davis will be solely focused on gathering signatures for the effort to recall the elected official.
To date, the unofficial tally for the recall effort sits at about 40,000 signatures.
The minimum required amount to collect is roughly 158,000 signatures.
Morgan Hill, the campaign manager for the Luna recall effort, applauded the persistence of organizers and volunteers who contributed to the referendum petition drive’s success.
“We the people demand accountability now and want to prevent the opportunity for destructive leadership to continue deteriorating not only the state of the children's learning environment but upholding high standards for elected officials in the future,” Hill said. “We ask every parent and teacher in Idaho to join us in continuing this fight, and we also encourage our great volunteer force to continue pushing for the recall.”
Hill estimates that on average 1,500 signatures are being gathered daily statewide.
He predicts that once school is out, teachers who support the effort will have more time to devote to the cause.
“We’ve been discussing organizing one more event a week or two before the petitions have to be turned in at the end of June, but nothing is set in stone yet,” Hill said.