Idaho voters upended all three of Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna's laws to overhaul education, a blow not only to the state's public schools leader but also to Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter who backed them.
Two-thirds of voters panned Luna's plan to spend $180 million to lease laptops for high school students and create online-class mandates. The other two laws — limits on teachers' collective bargaining rights and a new system of merit pay for teachers — also flamed out, on margins of more than 12 percentage points.
On a night when voters preserved Republicans' hold on the Idaho Legislature and delivered nearly a supermajority to Mitt Romney, they couldn't stomach education changes that many teachers argued were foisted on them from above. Penni Cyr, Idaho Education Association president, said voters bluntly rejected Luna's allies' contention that union efforts to overturn the laws were solely to preserve their power over public schools.
"This debate has never been about union control of our schools," Cyr told a small crowd of reporters Wednesday at Boise High School. "The debate has been about what's best for our students, educators and Idaho's public schools."