The powerful Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee will hear specific budget proposals from the State Board of Education and the State Department of Education next week. While Governor Otter outlined some of his budget request during his State of the State address and Superintendent Sherri Ybarra has previously released her request, the formal presentations to JFAC really get the ball rolling on the budget setting process.
The State Board presentation is Monday, January 22. Ybarra will make her presentation on Thursday, January 25. The IEA will be watching and analyzing the presentations very closely. You can follow streaming coverage of the JFAC sessions through Idaho in Session.
A recent report by Education Week magazine gave Idaho a D- grade in the area of school finance, and multiple reports show the state at or near the bottom in per pupil spending in comparison to other states. It is important that the Idaho legislature continues to make investing in our public schools its top priority.
Please Help Support Hearing Aid Legislation
The IEA requests your assistance in supporting legislation that would help families in obtaining hearing aids and necessary speech and language acquisition therapies covered by insurance. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, with the hope that it will move through the House Health and Welfare Committee as a first step toward becoming law.
Hearing aids and therapy can make a huge difference in the lives and educational success of children, but they are beyond the means of far too many Idaho families. Research shows us that early identification and treatment can save thousands of dollars in special education costs down the road. Sixteen states have passed legislation to address this issue, and we would like to see Idaho join them.
You can help by writing to the members of the Health and Welfare Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let them know why this legislation is critical and share your first-hand experiences. Letters to the editor of your local newspaper can be a big help too.
House Education Committee Votes Against Bill on Teacher Evaluations
A bill proposed by the State Board of Education was denied introduction by the House Education Committee on an 11-4 vote. The IEA also opposed this unnecessary bill which could have added yet another layer of bureaucracy to the evaluation process, taken away discretion and flexibility from administrators, and added significant paperwork to personnel files.
IEA members Rep. John McCrostie, D-Boise, and Rep. Sally Toone, D-Gooding, were among those voting against the bill. They told Idaho Education News that they “don’t like a one-size-fits-all approach to evaluations”.
Senate Education Committee Prints Bill Regarding Professional Standards Commission
The Senate Education Committee voted to print a bill proposed by the State Board of Education that would expand the number of stakeholders eligible to make nominations for positions on the Professional Standards Commission. The IEA opposes this bill for two reasons:
- The PSC is charged with overseeing the education profession in Idaho, and it should be run by professional educators, not outsiders with little/no expertise.
- The legislation does not define “stakeholders”, and could open the door for unintended and unqualified groups to make nominations for positions on the PSC.
You can read the proposed changes to the PSC legislation here.
IEA President Talks Education Policy with 670-KBOI
For a good perspective on where the IEA stands on education policy and funding issues in the early stages of the legislative session, listen to IEA President Kari Overall’s interview with Paul J Schneider and Chris Walton on 670-KBOI in Boise. She was an in-studio guest on Wednesday as the discussion touched on private school vouchers, the pros and cons of the Career Ladder, Idaho’s teacher shortage, and the IEA’s significant role in professional support for educators.
IEA Presents to Senate Ed. GR-PACE Team has an Active Day at the Capitol
Monday (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day/Idaho Human Rights Day) was a busy day for IEA staff and members of the GR-PACE team. Many meetings with legislators from around the state were the order of the day for the dedicated GR-PACE team. They shared their personal stories and perspectives on education issues with legislators, which always has a big impact on law-makers. Hearing directly from their constituents and top-flight professional educators about what is actually happening in schools and communities gets their attention. A good point to remember for all our members as the legislative session moves forward.
The GR-PACE team was also in attendance for a packed-house session of the Senate Education Committee. Several education stakeholders made presentations to answer questions from the committee about what the groups have been doing recently that has made a difference for student achievement, and what they hope to do in the near future. IEA President Kari Overall made her legislative debut, and shared the IEA’s growing commitment to professional development and support for educators as well as in-development programs on virtually mentoring and bullying prevention.