Idaho ed board to vote on mandatory online classes Friday

6 Sep

State superintendent Tom Luna speaks at the Students Come First Technology Task Force meeting earlier this year. (Jamie Hale/The Bannock Alternative)

The Idaho Board of Education will vote Friday on a proposed rule that would require high school students to take online classes in order to graduate. The rule is part of state superintendent Tom Luna’s controversial education reforms.

A subcommittee of the board already recommended the rule’s passage despite heavy opposition from teachers and parents across the state. The proposed rule would require state high school students to pass two credits of online classes to graduate.

Luna initially hoped to require eight credits, but the board lowered it significantly due to complaints. It also changed language that would not allow teachers to be in the room while students took the classes. Now, teachers may be in the room for one of the two credits.

Despite testimonies from educators staunchly opposed to the new rule, board spokesman Mark Browning made it clear they have no choice in the matter. From the Associated Press:

While some who testified on the proposed rule at the Nampa hearing said they would rather Idaho didn’t require students to take any online courses, Browning reminded them that was not an option.

The board is drafting online course requirements as part of new education changes that were signed into law this year with backing from public schools chief Tom Luna and Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter.

“Zero is not an option in the legislation,” Browning said.

The board will vote on the rule Friday on Boise. If it passes, it will first affect the class of 2016: next year’s high school freshmen.

The sweeping educational reform as a whole will go to Idaho voters in November 2012 as a result of the statewide Recall Tom Luna referendum campaign.

[via AP/Houston Chronicle]

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