Superintendent of Public Schools Tom Luna highlighted the many successes of our public schools when he met with members of the joint House and Senate Education Committees Wednesday afternoon.
Luna told legislators the number of five-star schools in Idaho increased last year and the number of one-star schools decreased, proving that, “we’re moving in the right direction.”
Interest in dual credit continues to grow. According to the superintendent, two years ago, Idaho students earned 17,000 credits. Last year that number grew to 27,000 credits; and in the first semester of this year, students have enrolled in courses that put them on a path to earn 24,000 dual credits.
He told committee members he supports the 20 recommendations of the Governor’s Task Force. He acknowledged that it will be expensive. He suggested that the recommendations will need to be phased in over time. He told committee members that if Idaho were to change our tax code to include collection of taxes for internet sales, we could provide revenue to pay for them.
Luna recommended the state begin implementing the Task Force recommendations this year by increasing funds to local school districts to fund operations, take initial steps to implement a teacher career ladder pay system by funding leadership awards, and expand dual credit for students.
State Board of Education member Richard Westerberg, chair of the Governor’s Task Force, provided a bit more detail about each of the 20 task force recommendations.
The IEA was encouraged by the direction of today’s discussion, and we look forward to legislative action to follow suit.
Last fall, the IEA joined the Idaho School Boards Association and the Idaho Association of School Administrators in outlining our support for the Task Force recommendations. As a part of our statement, we suggested phasing in recommendations. We recommended that the legislature begin by focusing on:
- implementing the Idaho Core Standards,
- improving literacy proficiency,
- improving opportunities for students to earn dual credit,
- providing resources and support for local school districts to work on strategic plans to assure a continuous focus on improvement,
- assuring all school districts have adequate high speed bandwidth and wireless infrastructures, and
- restoring operational funding.