The IEA and other education organizations were invited to introduce themselves and provide committee members with their organizational vision for the 2015 session. IEA Executive Director Robin Nettinga presented for the IEA. Here is a synopsis of her comments:
The IEA believes that public education is the cornerstone of our social, economic, and political structure. That requires that public education opportunities for every person must be preserved and strengthened and that positive attention be focused on the contributions of public education and education employees.
This session, you will once again be asked to make decisions about very important issues such as accountability, career ladders, tiered certification, student testing, and teacher contract and negotiations law. The members of the IEA have strong opinions on each of these weighty topics, and we’ll be here on their behalf representing those views.
As we’ve watched the number of individuals seeking Idaho teacher certification dip significantly over the past few years, we have become increasingly concerned about our state’s ability to recruit and retain a quality teaching staff. We know that the issues of recruitment and retention go much deeper than what an individual is paid.
We know how critically important the teacher is to the achievement levels of his or her students. Consequently, as we consider our positions on legislative and other policy matters, our concern for the impact any such decision will have the recruitment and retention of teachers weighs heavily on our final decision.
To that end, the IEA is committed to supporting policy decisions and professional practices that retain high quality educators, increase public support for education, lead to improved student success, and ensure authentic representation and buy-in of all stakeholders, including the classroom teacher.
Throughout the interim, the IEA has worked closely with the administrators and school boards association to find common ground on many of the issues. It is our hope that once again this year, you will find that more often than not, we are in agreement. However, there will also be times when our organizations have agreed to disagree on an issue. In those instances, we will strive to find middle ground when possible. And, when that is not possible we will strongly advocate on behalf of our members.
Thank you for the opportunity to work with you again this session. At the IEA, we pride ourselves on advocating for those issues that our members tell us are important to them. We work diligently to be their voices with you while they are doing the incredibly important work of educating children. While we know that many of you who have been doing this work for some time have educators you go to for information or questions, please know that if you would like for us to help connect you to our members, we would be delighted to help do that.
Several members have reached out to the IEA questioning State Superintendent Ybarra’s comments yesterday following the State of the State address. When asked about her position on career ladders, Supt. Ybarra said that she and Governor Otter are “on the same page.” This comment seemed to conflict with earlier reports that she supported slowing down the process.
We reached out to Supt. Ybarra’s special assistant. The following statement represents her position on the issue:
The superintendent does support the concept of career ladders. Assuming a plan is adopted by the legislature, she would support moving forward with the career ladders plan as a pilot project. She would further support stakeholder input/involvement during the pilot phase to assure that gaps or problems would be fixed before full implementation. Not only would this assure that the introduction of a very complex system would be smoother for districts and teachers, but it would also help the SDE assure that any fiscal issues that might arise were easier to manage.