2020 feels like we are living in a simulation of a bad version of the movie Groundhog Day and someone needs to fix the script–fast. Educators are routinely boxed into having to make impossible choices in this script. None of the choices presented leave us with any real satisfactory answers. Here are some of the quandaries educators have been presented with recently.
Do you want to educate students in person or keep your family healthy via 100% remote learning?
Do you want to double your workload to keep class sizes down and conduct asynchronistic instruction?
Do you support students participating in sports and extracurricular activities or reducing the risk of COVID-19 infection for the broader community?
Which do you value more, your students’ mental health or your own?
Do you want your students to have equitable access to learning opportunities or some semblance of a home-life with your family?
Should you take on a vastly increased workload without additional reward, or leave the profession you love?
The unfortunate reality is that this poorly written movie we call the year 2020 was also 2019, 2018, 2017, and… so on. Then some uncreative, washed-up screenwriter decided to turn 2020 into the thriller version with a global pandemic. It’s a test of our cortisol levels, immune systems, and resolve. The good news is that the collective we of the IEA and professional educators, have been here before. So, let’s take a breath for a moment and assess what we know about the realities of our current situation.
Idaho ranks 51stin per-pupil funding. We invest $10,000 fewer dollars per student than our neighbor, Wyoming.
Idaho has the sixth-highest number of students per classroom.
Teachers in Idaho endure a 20.9% wage penalty for becoming an educator versus another equally educated profession.
Idaho received more than $1.2 Billion in federal dollars to address COVID – with sufficient dollars allocated for school technology and coronavirus testing.
The Idaho legislature gave away over $300 million in sales tax exemptions to special interests in the last three years.
Idaho would provide $750 million more to public education if Idahoans invested at the same personal contribution rate as in 1980.
Idaho has less than half the number of certified counselors in our schools than the ratio recommended by the American School Counselor Association.
What the pandemic has done is lift the veil. The choices are illogical and, unfortunately, they are not ours to make, but instead fall to politicians and government officials.
To have safe schools with smaller class sizes, to retain educators and compensate them as professionals, to ensure our students have the mental health support they need and the extracurricular activities they all deserve, and to have adequate health services, testing and transparency to ensure we have open and healthy schools… well, those are all decisions made by politicians. In the earlier versions of this bad movie of 2020, they made the wrong decisions.
Fortunately, in addition to numerous villains, this movie has action heroes—you, the united IEA members. Thanks to you, we have been able to elevate educator voices and make headway toward the School Our Students Deserve. Look at some of your accomplishments.
Working with the Governor’s office, we were able to get $99 million restored to the education budget.
We were instrumental in the passage of the Advanced Professional Educator Pay legislation just seven long months ago.
We led the effort to ensure that academic content standards remained in place.
IEA members have been represented on several committees looking at how Idaho manages K-12 education in the midst of a public health crisis.
But there is much work to be done. As educators, we must continue to hold decision-makers accountable to:
Improve veteran teacher salary.
Increase salaries for all classified employees.
Divest in high stakes testing.
Invest in hiring school counselors to address the mental health needs of students.
Create equitable access to school nurses in every building.
Provide professional development for Social/Emotional Learning for all school employees.
Increase substitute teacher pay.
Implement “hero” pay for educators working through the COVID19 Pandemic.
And…What do you think? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org
Get involved. Be powerful. Join PACE and let’s win the Schools Our Students Deserve, together.