Legislature to Study Science Standards
The legislature is expected to revisit Idaho’s science standards as part of its rulemaking process. This issue has brought about controversy in the last couple of years. Read more from Idaho Education News.
Rep. Scott Removed from Committees
Rep. Heather Scott (R-Blanchard) was removed from all legislative committees following accusations of unprofessional conduct. Read more in this story from Boise State Public Radio.
University of Idaho Teacher Training Program Sees Drastic Enrollment Decline
The story below appeared in the Moscow-Pullman Daily News
UI’s education students fall 50 percent
By Taylor Nadauld – Posted: January 12, 2017
Brianna Wallen wants to become the sort of teacher for whom students have fond memories of the profound effect she had on their lives.
At Moscow High School, she participated in a teacher training program where she spent an hour and half each day interacting with students and helping teachers prepare materials. Now, she works as a student teacher for a kindergarten class at A.B. McDonald Elementary School in Moscow.
“I just love being with the kids, and I want to help better their lives and help them to succeed to the best of their abilities,” Wallen said.
Wallen is one of a declining number of education students in Idaho preparing to enter the workforce.
“We have 241 students currently registered for teacher education, which is about 50 percent of our enrollment 10 years ago,” Taylor Raney, director of teacher education at the University of Idaho, said.
Moscow Superintendent Greg Bailey said it is becoming increasingly difficult to recruit teachers in the area. And while he called the lack of teachers a national crisis, he said Idaho might face some problems that are specific to the state.
“It’s probably a larger concern in the state of Idaho due to the lack of support that is provided to the teachers,” Bailey said.
With the University of Idaho in Moscow’s backyard, Bailey said the city probably has better hiring opportunities than other areas. But the number of students going into teaching careers at the university has lately been in decline.
Raney said numbers may have bottomed out in the last year, but admissions at the UI’s College of Education have been in decline for the past decade. And those numbers, he said, are representative of a national trend that indicates a shortage of teachers across the country.
“We have 241 students currently registered for teacher education, which is about 50 percent of our enrollment 10 years ago,” Raney said.
Raney said students are typically admitted to teacher education in their sophomore and junior years. According to internal reports from the UI College of Education, the number of students admitted to teacher education decreased from 220 in 2013, to 137 in 2015. That number stayed at 137 in 2016.
Besides national trends, Raney attributes the statistics to a number of Idaho-based issues including state funding of education, building renovations at UI, and the general rurality of the state.
“The fact that we’re as rural as we are, is very difficult,” Raney said.
A recent 22-year-old graduate, he said, is difficult to recruit to work in a district like St. Maries.
To make teaching more attractive in the state, Raney said first and foremost, the Idaho Legislature must continue voting to increase funding for the career ladder every year.
“The goal will be to start at $40,000 a year,” Raney said.
This week, Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter announced his recommendation that an ongoing allocation of $58 million go toward the career ladder.
“Along with the $75 million that we invested in that effort during the past two years, this new and largest tranche will keep us on track in reaching our five-year funding goal for attracting and retaining more of the best and brightest educators available,” Otter said.
In addition, Raney said tuition forgiveness for committed students could make teaching positions more attractive.
“I’d love to see some tuition forgiveness for folks that commit to teaching and actually do,” Raney said.
As for the future, Bailey said one concern for superintendents around the state is replacing high percentage of teachers expected to retire in the next five to 10 years.
Bailey said he was pleased with Otter’s recommendation for the career ladder.
“It’s just, we’re still a long way from where we need to be,” Bailey said, “and I’m not sure if all of our legislators are in agreement with the governor.”