Friday, July 10, 2009

Be fair to schools

It's no secret to parents that Idaho public schools are handed shabby treatment year after year.

Nor is it a secret to state politicians, who are the principal source of policies and actions that have effectively shortchanged education and left dozens of schoolhouses in disrepair. In some cases, "unfit for student use" might be a better description.

Repeated court rulings over the past decade have ordered the state Legislature to end its skinflint spending policies. However, incessant, irascible refusals to comply as well as several court appeals have effectively delayed the flow of adequate funds Idaho schools need to catch up, much less maintain buildings that continue to be neglected.

Now, Idaho School Superintendent Tom Luna—a Republican, we should note—is daring to ask the Republican-controlled state Legislature to change the state constitution to allow a lower vote margin to approve school bond elections.

At present, a 66 percent super-majority is required. Luna is proposing to lower it to 60 percent. Our own preference would be a simple majority of 51 percent.

Instead of laws that are hostile to improving education and schoolhouses, Idaho's lawmakers should find ways to accelerate ways of funding classroom education. Artificial obstacles, such as unreasonably high margins for voter-approved financing, only impair the quality of education Idaho children receive.

No one benefits from a substandard school system that graduates students who deserved better. Legislators should support Luna in his quest.

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