After months of fact-finding, discussion and collaboration, the K-12 task force convened by Governor Brad Little has released its final recommendations. Veteran teacher compensation, full-day kindergarten opportunities, and additional resources devoted to students’ mental and emotional health highlight the recommendations, around which the governor is expected to build his policy and funding proposals for the upcoming legislative session and his five-year plan for public education.
IEA President Kari Overall and IEA member Marc Beitia of American Falls were members of the main task force, while several other IEA members served on subcommittees. The task force was co-chaired by State Board of Education President Debbie Critchfield and Idaho businessman Bill Gilbert and was made up of 26 educators, legislators and elected officials, and business leaders. Between the main task force and the subcommittees, there were 28 total meetings held around the state, with opportunities for public comment both online and in-person. At their meeting on November 4, the task force voted to send five primary recommendations on to the Governor.
- Building out and updating the career ladder salary allocation program to elevate the profession and retain effective educators.
- Greater all-day kindergarten opportunities to support K-3 literacy and future student achievement.
- Additional resources for students facing social and emotional challenges
- Strategic alignment and increased flexibility in the K-12 funding formula.
- Statewide accountability focusing on K-3 literacy.
The collaborative process and the potential positive outcomes from the recommendations drew praise from IEA President Kari Overall, who also cautioned that effective follow-through is imperative. Here is her full statement:
K-12 Task Force Recommendations Are a Positive Step
“The final recommendations put forward today by the K-12 Task Force, Our Kids, Idaho’s Future, represent a positive step forward in our efforts to create the public schools Idaho students deserve. It is imperative that we invest in our students and prioritize trust and respect in our professional educators. These task force recommendations can bring us closer to that objective and will benefit Idaho students and communities.
We are very pleased the task force overwhelmingly agreed on the need to address the crisis related to teacher retention in Idaho and recommend expanding and building out the Career Ladder to recognize the intrinsic value of our veteran educators. We have made significant progress in teacher recruitment through increases for early career educators, and this is the ideal time to take care of our most experienced and valuable educators.
We heard from virtually every constituency about the urgent need for more resources and training related to student mental and emotional health, as well as the importance of full-day kindergarten as a foundation for academic success. The recommendations in these areas reflect the consensus of the task force and can make a huge difference in the achievement and growth of Idaho students.
It was my privilege to serve on the task force. Thanks to the educators, legislators, and business leaders who worked collaboratively for the best interests of Idaho students. We appreciate the commitment to public education shown by Governor Little by convening the Our Kids, Idaho’s Future task force for this important task.
Our work is not complete, however. It is crucial that the Idaho legislature take decisive action on the task force recommendations in the upcoming session. Together, we can create the public schools Idaho students deserve.”
President, Idaho Education Association