Several issues of importance to educators are likely to be at the forefront of discussion and debate during the 2018 Idaho legislative session. The IEA lobby team will once again advocate on behalf of our members and their students for policies that promote a strong and equitable public education system. There are also sure to be times when we want legislators to hear directly from profession educators, so we will keep you up to speed and let you know how to make your voice heard. Issues to be watching for this session include:
- Career Ladder. Year four of the five-year plan to raise teacher salaries in Idaho to a more competitive level. It is imperative that legislators follow through on full funding of the Career Ladder to enable Idaho districts to recruit and retain quality teachers. The Teacher Pipeline Workgroup has recommended that the original Career Ladder proposal ($40,000, $50,000, $60,000) be adopted, including more funding for veteran teachers who have been largely bypassed under the current plan.
- Master Educator Premiums. As an offset for not funding the top tier of the Career Ladder, the legislature developed Master Educator Premiums, which can pay veteran teachers an additional $4,000 each for three years. The IEA has been helping members collect artifacts and organize their portfolios for the MEP application process, with MEP payouts scheduled to begin in 2019-20. The IEA will be fighting to ensure that Master Educator Premiums are implemented with no caps or limitations on how many teachers can apply and qualify.
- Health Insurance for Educators. The legislature has started to examine strategies for addressing the dramatic rise in health care costs for school districts. There is no consensus yet on the best way to deal with the fiscal impact of health care, but the IEA position is to allow districts as much flexibility as possible. Another line item or a one-size-fits-all approach is not in the best interests of districts, teachers, or students.
- Voucher Legislation. Some form of legislation supporting private school vouchers is likely to be brought forward again. Whether it is disguised as a tax credit or education savings account, a voucher plan would draw money away from already-strapped public schools and divert funds to private and religious schools.
- Anti-union Proposals. There may be proposals floated aimed at changing or undermining the collective bargaining process that has worked effectively in Idaho for many years. The IEA will vigorously oppose any such legislation.