IEA Reaction to Gov. Little’s State of the State Address
Governor Little continues to demonstrate his commitment to public education in Idaho. Investing in our students, professional educators, and public schools is the foundation of success and prosperity for our rapidly-growing state.
The Governor’s K-12 task force recommendations are a terrific starting point for moving our public education system forward and meeting the needs of students and communities. It is time Idaho stops playing catch-up and commits to investing in public schools. We fully support the task force recommendations and urge legislators to act upon them in a prompt and streamlined manner that prioritizes Idaho students.
Idaho has a teacher retention crisis that must be addressed by increasing pay for our most experienced teachers. These dedicated educators were hit hardest during the recession and have been largely overlooked in recent years—despite the economic recovery and funding increases in other aspects of Idaho’s public education system.
Idaho’s teacher attrition rates are among the highest in the nation. Some districts are dealing with annual turnover rates of 40% or higher, which is highly detrimental to student achievement and progress. The task force recommendation to update and expand the career ladder salary allocation plan to address veteran teacher pay is crucial.
The task force also heard from many constituencies about the increase in student mental and emotional health issues, and we are pleased that Governor Little is emphasizing increased resources and awareness to address them. The governor’s recognition of IEA member and 2020 Idaho Teacher of the Year Stacie Lawler, a health and physical education teacher in the Lakeland School District, was a positive sign and we hope this critical issue will get the attention it deserves.
We also applaud Governor Little for his emphasis on early childhood literacy. The task force recommendation on full-day kindergarten opportunities is an encouraging step. As professional educators, we know how important the building blocks of early childhood education are for long-term student success.
We will be watching the budgeting and policy development process very closely over the coming weeks. Idaho is the fastest-growing state in the nation, and it is imperative that we factor in enrollment growth and inflation in order to ensure we are providing sufficient resources for our students and professional educators.
There is still a great deal of work to be done, but together we can build the public schools Idaho students deserve.
President, Idaho Education Association