BOISE -- Election Day is just 35 days away, and while there are a lot of people and issues up for a vote, there are probably none more controversial in Idaho than the Students Come First laws.
Tuesday afternoon, The City Club of Boise held a forum with Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna and state Rep. Brian Cronin(D-Boise), a spokesman for the Vote No Campaign.
The Students Come First laws are up for a vote on Nov. 6 as Propositions 1, 2 and 3.
This is only the fifth time in Idaho's history that a referendum measure made the general election ballot. With the stakes high, both Luna and Cronin were passionate in their stances.
The two men sat next to each other trading blows as though they were running for the same political seat. Luna and Cronin fielded questions from the audience about many aspects of the laws. Here are some of their responses.
Proposition 3: Technology in the classroom
"Why do we need to force every student and every family to take this laptop whether they want it or not all in the name of student achievement, when there is no evidence that this one-to-one laptop program has every worked?" said Cronin.
"Thousands of schools across America have been doing this one-to-one ratio. This is about bringing our children and our schools into the 21st century. That's what this is about. Technology is not the silver bullet, or it's the only thing you would find in Students Come First," said Luna.
Proposition 2: Teacher pay for performance
"If you really are interested in the truth take a look at New Plymouth. They've been doing this for 10 years and the student achievement is impressive, and there's nothing like it to compare it to in Idaho," said Luna.
"The notion that we simply dangle a carrot in front of them and offer them an extra $2,000 doesn't mean their going to work harder or smarter. In many places there's no other place to go, there's nothing more that they can do," said Cronin.
Proposition 1: Local Control
"Previously school districts and their school boards decided how they were going to implement technology in the classroom, and all of them have. Now they don't have that choice. They're being told they need to give every kid a laptop. That is an erosion of local control," said Cronin.
"This is not a top down. What this is, is an opportunity for districts and schools and teachers and students all across Idaho to have equal access and opportunity," said Luna.
With all the differences, the two men do agree on one thing - people need to know accurate information on the referendums.
"And all you heard from the other side was a bunch of misinformation, a bunch of accusations, a bunch of personal attacks. I don't think that's what people need to hear. They need to know what the real issues are," said Luna.
"We're hearing spin from the other side about what wonderful reform this is. This isn't reform. It's never really been about reform, it's never been about children. This is about a fiscal crisis plan, a way to do education on the cheap," said Cronin.
Links to information on Propositions 1, 2, 3:
Idaho Department of Education website studentscomefirst.org
Questions as they will appear on November ballot
Vote No website
Watch the forum on Idaho's Very Own 24/7:
It will air on Tuesday, October 2 at 7 p.m.
And on Thursday, October 4, at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.