IEA Hotline—January 29, 2021
“Be on Our Side”, Teacher of the Year Tells Legislators
IEA Member Jorge Pulleiro Shares Experiences and Insight with Education Committees
Jorge Pulleiro, a teacher at Wood River Middle School in Blaine County, seized upon the opportunity to address both the House and Senate Education Committees in his role as Idaho’s 2021 Teacher of the Year, sharing both his personal journey and his requests of lawmakers.
Pulleiro was born in Argentina and credited the influence of his single, working mother and his third-grade teacher with instilling in him a love of learning and teaching. “My third-grade teacher changed my life,” he said. “When I was eight years old, I knew I wanted to be a teacher.”
He found his way to Brigham Young University and spent six years in the United States Army before beginning his professional career in education, first in John Day, OR, then in Blaine County. Eighteen years and two graduate degrees later, he was selected as Idaho’s latest Teacher of the Year honoree.
“Relationships are the key element,” Pulleiro told legislators. “A teacher is a teacher in and out of the classroom, and I have done my best to support and mentor my students at all times.” He is a mainstay in the Spanish-speaking community, consistently pushing to make sure English Language Learners have the opportunities they need and deserve.
Pulleiro went on to tell the committees that educators and students need their help. “Be part of our team; be on our side,” he said. “We need equitable funding for all students.” He encouraged, perhaps even chided, legislators to get more first-hand experience about what is happening in Idaho schools. “Stop warming your comfortable seats and visit our schools,” he said.
An archive of the full Senate Education Committee meeting from January 28, including comments from the Teacher of the Year, is available here.
Superintendent Ybarra Presents Budget Proposal to JFAC
State Superintendent Sherri Ybarra made her annual presentation and budget request to the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee Thursday, asking for a general fund increase of just 2.5 percent, the smallest in Idaho in the last seven years. The proposed budget does call for $24.1 million to go toward the Career Ladder and the Advanced Professional Educator endorsement.
“With a large influx in federal funds and our state sitting on a $600 million surplus, it is disappointing to see such a meager increase requested by the state officer charged with supporting students and educators,” says IEA President Layne McInelly. Gov. Brad Little’s budget proposal called for a restoration of funds lost due to COVID-19 holdbacks and a 3.7 percent overall increase. As we pointed out in our response to Little’s State of the State Address, even that increase barely keeps pace with inflation and enrollment growth and misses out on a great opportunity to invest in a public school system that ranks last among the 50 states in per-student funding.
Superintendent Ybarra’s full presentation to JFAC on January 28 can be found in the legislative archive.
Senate Bill Would Give Educators Credit for Experience in Other States
SB 1007 has passed the Senate on a unanimous vote. This legislation would enable Idaho school districts to place educators coming into the state on the rung of the Career Ladder corresponding with their experience gained in other states. The bill heads to the House Education Committee.
Possible Legislation from Ybarra Already Under Fire
State Superintendent Sherri Ybarra has signaled that she plans to push for legislation that would require an “emergency” to prevent full in-person instruction. As Idaho Education News reports, superintendents from several districts in Southwestern Idaho have already objected, claiming that such legislation would usurp the authority of district leaders to make decisions about in-person vs online instruction based on various circumstances. “Given the lack of adherence to safety protocols by some districts during the pandemic, we also have significant reservations about this possible legislation,” says IEA President Layne McInelly.
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