Idaho Education President Layne McInelly issued the following statement on behalf of Idaho’s educators in reaction to Governor Brad Little’s State of the State address today:
Governor Little’s commitment to improving Idaho public education shines through in the recommendations he made to the Idaho Legislature today. His proposed 11% increase to the state’s K-12 education budget is the strongest improvement in recent years. If approved by the Legislature, this new funding would begin to move Idaho away from the horrifying distinction of ranking below every other state, and the District of Columbia, in per-student spending. Our students deserve much more than what they have been getting from Idaho policymakers in recent years, and Governor Little is guiding us to the right path forward.
His proposals to improve health care coverage for educators, address the salary needs of our veteran teachers, provide pandemic pay bonuses for certified educators, and increase the pay of classified employees in our school districts are all strong steps toward offering educators the respect and compensation they deserve. After two of the most difficult years in modern history for our profession, recent polling shows that no less than 51% of Idaho’s teachers are considering leaving the profession — a potential disaster for our state and its children. If approved by the Legislature, Governor Little’s proposed investments in our weary, but dedicated educators will go a long way to attracting and keeping highly skilled educators in our classrooms.
Idahoans have made it clear that their vision for a strong public education system includes early childhood education options for families. Governor Little’s inclusion of $47 million to help school districts offer full-day kindergarten is another step in the right direction for our state on this issue. Our educators are eager to discuss making this proposal a reality with lawmakers during the legislative session.
With a record $1.9 billion surplus in state coffers, Idaho policymakers have the perfect opportunity to demonstrate a new commitment to Idaho’s students, schools, and teachers. Governor Little has set the table for the Legislature to make smart and badly needed investments in public education that ensure our educators can continue to inspire our students and have an extraordinarily positive impact on our communities and families.
Lanye McInelly is Idaho Education Association President and a career educator.