FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – March 28, 2022
The 2022 Idaho legislative session provided the best outcomes for Idaho students, public schools and educators in recent memory.
Lawmakers’ support of Gov. Brad Little’s recommendations for increasing education spending, funding for literacy and kindergarten, and better pay and benefits for educators, among other legislative action, sets Idaho’s public schools on a much better path after the harsh challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“After two very difficult years, Idaho’s students, schools, and teachers deserved a break,” said Layne McInelly, a professional educator and president of the Idaho Education Association. “This slate of impressive legislative accomplishments is certainly a step in the right direction and could be the start of reversing decades of neglect of our public schools.”
McInelly praised the 11 percent increase in overall K-12 spending approved by the Legislature, the largest percentage increase for public schools in more than a generation. Also, he said, lawmakers’ approval of a seven percent increase in educator salaries and quality affordable health insurance for educators will help to ease the pressure educators have felt in recent years, leading more than half in Idaho to consider leaving the profession.
McInelly applauded Gov. Little for prioritizing “these smart and badly-needed education investments” and thanked lawmakers for following his lead.
“IEA members have long said that better pay, better benefits and simple respect are the best ways to attract and retain high quality educators for Idaho’s classrooms,” McInelly said. “We still have a long way to go to put Idaho on par with most other states. But these investments will help many Idaho educators remain in the classroom — where they want to be — so they can continue to inspire our students and have an extraordinary positive impact on our communities and families.”
Additional IEA-endorsed education legislation approved by the Legislature includes:
- Financial incentives for teachers in rural or high-need areas of the state (Senate Bill 1290)
- About $47 million in literacy program funding available for more kindergarten offerings
- Dyslexia screening for students and training for educators (House Bill 731)
- A broadened pool of qualified mental health professionals school districts can hire to help Idaho’s students (House Bill 654)
Additionally, IEA-member influence at the Statehouse helped stop a number of bills detrimental to the vitality of public education, including:
- An “unabashed voucher bill” that would have allowed taxpayer funds reserved for public schools to be passed to private or non-public parochial schools (House Bill 669)
- Legislation that would have allowed school librarians and others to be fined or jailed for allowing access to materials deemed “offensive” (House Bill 666)
- A ban on schools evaluating or questioning students on “non-academic” topics, including personal mental well-being and adversity in their home life (House Bill 733)
IEA Executive Director Paul Stark thanked IEA’s educator members for their engagement on these legislative wins. More than 150 IEA members directly lobbied lawmakers on these and other education bills throughout the legislative session and hundreds of educators emailed and called to register their opinions on legislation.
“IEA members are the fiercest advocates for Idaho’s public schools and students,” Stark said. “As our state’s most important and influential education experts, they collectively stepped up and played a huge role in making these legislative accomplishments possible. Their dedication to Idaho’s children and their dogged commitment to their profession and the essential principles of public education are an inspiration and foundational to our state’s success as part of our nation’s republic.”
CONTACT: Mike Journee