Welcome to the 2018 Idaho Legislative Session. Public education figures to be a significant focal point during the session again this year, and the Idaho Education Association will be there every step of the way to advocate on behalf of the professional educators, students, parents, communities that depend on a strong public education system.
The Hotline will be published as a weekly roundup this year, hitting your inbox on Friday evenings with a complete recap of relevant legislative happenings. Special editions of the Hotline will also be published as needed to keep you informed of critical developments, particularly those that compel direct action, such as contacting legislators or getting in touch with media outlets.
You can also keep up with the legislative session, as well as read about IEA members and accessing great professional development opportunities, by following us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/idahoea and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ @idahoEdAssoc.
IEA Response to Governor Otter’s State of the State Address
To kick off the 2018 Hotline, below is the official response from IEA President Kari Overall to today’s State of the State address delivered by Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter.
We appreciate the prioritization of public education noted in Governor Otter’s State of the State address today, and as he begins his final legislative session, we thank him for his 12 years of service to the great state of Idaho. His willingness in recent years to include the voices of professional educators in the transformation of our public education system has been a critical component in the success of those efforts.
As the Governor noted, making good on the commitment to the five-year Career Ladder salary allocation plan is an absolute necessity. However, the recent report from the Teacher Pipeline Workgroup points out that the Career Ladder, as currently constructed, is insufficient to address the state’s retention problem. Our most experienced and valuable teachers have been largely overlooked under the Career Ladder. The Workgroup recommended that Idaho adopt and fund the third rung of the Career Ladder plan as originally proposed by the Governor’s Task Force for Improving Education. The IEA fully supports this idea, as well as the other recommendations of the Teacher Pipeline Workgroup.
While it is appropriate to acknowledge the increased resources provided to Idaho’s public education system over the last three years, this is not the time for premature celebration. There is much work yet to be done to ensure that every Idaho student has access to a quality education, and the lynchpin of that effort is to prioritize the recruitment, retention, and support of excellent professional educators.
It is also important that Idaho stand up to any efforts to undermine our public school system through private school vouchers, which would syphon away money from public schools at a time when they remain under-resourced, particularly in rural areas. It is an easy concept to get your arms around—public tax dollars should be used to fund public schools. Period. Any policies that stray from this idea make it harder to ensure equal opportunity for all students and are likely to result in even more local levies and bonds being sought by already resource-strapped local school districts.
The education issues that will be addressed during this legislative session are many and varied. In addition to core funding issues, high-stakes testing, class sizes, health insurance for professional educators, Master Educator Premiums, and science standards are all likely to be discussed. The Idaho Education Association looks forward to working with Governor Otter, the legislature, education stakeholder groups, parents, and concerned citizens during this session. Idaho’s children are its greatest resource, and the IEA will continue to advocate for policies and legislation that support our students and the professional educators who work so passionately on their behalf.
President, Idaho Education Association