Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Students protest education reforms

WRHS kids skip classes to voice opposition to Luna plan


By TERRY SMITH
Express Staff Writer

About 50 Wood River High School students skipped classes and demonstrated Monday to protest an education reform plan proposed by state schools Superintendent Tom Luna.

"It was so that none of the teachers will get fired and so we won't have to do online classes without a teacher," said freshman Jaden Ingram, one of the protest participants. "There were people putting out banners that said we'll drop out of school if this goes through. I think it's just a way to get the Blaine County School District to hear how students feel about it."

The protest started at about 8:30 a.m. and lasted all day. Students made signs and banners and displayed them in a march around the school until Principal Peter Jurovich asked them to come inside, where they were allowed to continue the demonstration in the school Commons Area, Ingram said.

"It was pretty cold and he was worried about our safety," Ingram said.

The Luna education reform plan is in the form of several bills before the Legislature. The part of the plan most objectionable to the students, Ingram said, is legislation that would cut state funding for staff and direct the money instead to buying laptop computers for students so they can take more online classes.

The protest was mainly organized on Facebook, Ingram said, after students learned that friends in the Boise area were organizing protests there.

The Associated Press reported that several hundred students walked out of classes Monday in the Boise, Nampa and Meridian areas.

Ingram said Tuesday that things were back to normal at Wood River High School and that students weren't facing disciplinary action for the protest.

"They said it was harmless, so we were all excused," he said.

Jurovich could not be reached for comment, but Assistant Superintendent John Blackman said many parents called in to have their students excused from classes and no disciplinary action was being contemplated.

"They were peaceful and didn't cause any problems," Blackman said. "It sounds like it was a pretty well-done deal."

Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress.com




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