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First-Time Lobby Dayers Jump in with Both Feet

January 20, 2024

For most people, being a “lobbyist for a day” wouldn’t be their first choice for how to spend a holiday. But for four first-time participants in the Idaho Education Association’s annual Lobby Day last Monday, the desire to have an impact on Idaho’s policies toward education outweighed any reasons they had for staying home on a snowy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  

Jarod Morehouse

Instead, these educators set aside uncertainty and gave up their day off to take part in a unique opportunity to talk directly to policymakers about the support needed to create the free and equitable public schools that Idaho students deserve.  

“I wanted to get involved,” said 16-year educator Jarod Morehouse, a math teacher at Timberline High School and member of the Boise Education Association. “You see lots of things in the news about what’s happening with education in this state. When the opportunity came up to be part of it and have a voice and talk with the people who are making the decisions, I jumped at the chance to be involved.” 

The need to keep vouchers, in any form, out of Idaho seemed to be the top topic of discussion these Lobby Day rookies had for lawmakers. But providing more resources to help their fellow educators deal with the growing mental health and behavior challenges facing public schools was another big talking point.  

Moira DuCoeur

“I have seven people I have talked to in our district who are looking for something different next year if they don’t have more support in their classrooms, counselors who can help with these kids,” said Moira DuCoeur, a third grade educator at Coeur d’Alene’s Sorenson Magnet School for the Arts and Humanities.  

All Lobby Day participants are members and contributors to IEA’s Political Action Committee for Education or PACE. But, for these first-timers, stepping into the political arena wasn’t necessarily something that came naturally. 

“To come and see how the process works and talk to people is a little intimidating, but IEA has made it pretty easy,” DuCoeur said.  

Stacie Lawler and her husband Shawn both teach physical education and health in North Idaho’s Lakeland School District. He was skeptical of his ability to have a real impact on policy by participating. But Stacie saw Lobby Day as the next natural step in her union engagement after attending her first IEA Delegate Assembly last April.  

Stacie Lawler

“It became really became apparent that I need to get more involved,” said Stacie, who also serves as vice president of the Lakeland Education Association. “I really feel like it’s my duty now. It’s my turn to step up and see what I can do.” 

But she also gets something in return for her increased engagement: “It’s really nice to get together with like-minded people who are passionate about education.” 

DuCoeur’s been looking for opportunities to get involved more for the past few years. She joined her local’s negotiations team and is part of a joint collaborative and problem solving committee her district set up with her local.  

“Every time we would come together in the last three years, I would find that there was only so much the district could do because the funding was limited and laws that kept them from doing more,” DuCoeur said. “Things that were happening here (the Statehouse) were affecting what we could do at the local and district level.” 

Erica Ringer

Erica Ringer, a second year, second grade educator at Koelsch Elementary in Boise, joined IEA as a student member three years ago. She’s drawn to the policy discussion at Lobby Day.  

“I’ve always been interested in politics and legislation, so I figured this was a good place to get involved,” Ringer said. She enjoyed her discussion with lawmakers about vouchers, student mental health and the State of Idaho’s chronic underfunding of public education.  

“I’ll absolutely be back next year,” she said. “And hopefully I’ll be able to bring someone else along who hasn’t been part of this before.” 

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