Looking Back on a Challenging Year and Ahead to a Brighter Future
In deference to ongoing concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic and to ensure the safety of members and staff, the IEA’s Annual Meeting and Delegate Assembly was held online this spring. The new platform enabled business to be conducted as smoothly as possible, although the camaraderie that accompanies the in-person DAs was difficult to replicate. What didn’t change was the dedication of IEA members to their association and their passion for issues that elevate the profession and benefit students.
In his opening remarks, IEA President Layne McInelly looked back on an unprecedented year. “What a year it has been—one of reflection, many challenges, victories, and a tested understanding of who WE are as the IEA and what WE, collectively, are and can become.” He also addressed the opportunities that lie ahead. “From Post Falls to Idaho Falls to the Treasure Valley, parents and community members are forming alliances on everything from culturally inclusive curricula to student mental health, community schools, parent education and support, early childhood education, and much more.”
Delegates passed several New Business Items (NBIs) that were brought forward by members.
- Multiple NBIs addressed the mental health concerns of students and educators. Two encourage districts to hire behavioral analysts and school/community liaisons to compliment the work of counselors and psychologists. Another encourages adoption of the counseling model adopted by the American School Counselor Association (ASCA), which more clearly defines staff roles and prioritizes counselors ability to do the work for which they are trained.
- Another NBI encourages the building of community relationships on behalf of public schools. Citing an ongoing disconnect between what legislators (and others) believe is happening in Idaho schools and what is actually occurring, IEA member Sonia Galaviz made a strong case for “Educator for a Day” initiatives and other strategies for engaging and informing on a wider scale.
- An NBI was passed in support of pedagogical/academic freedom for professional educators. With 92% of delegates voting in favor, this NBI affirms the right of educators to undertake discussion of historical events, provide context, and help students build the critical thinking and analytical skills they will need for future success.
Delegates also passed budgets and approved dates for future Delegate Assemblies, hopefully with a return to an in-person format. The 2022 DA is slated for April 22-23 at the Boise Centre. IEA Political Director Matt Compton also presented on the 2021 legislative session.
Without the benefit of the traditional silent auction that is the heart of fundraising for the IEA Children’s Fund, IEA members and staff had to get creative with the virtual Delegate Assembly format. A raffle with a destination getaway became the centerpiece, and delegates responded by raising $24,527.72—which was more than $1,100 above the amount from the in-person Delegate Assembly in 2019.
“To see our members respond with this kind of generosity is truly heartwarming,” says IEA President Layne McInelly. “During these difficult times, students and families need our support more than ever, and thanks to the caring of IEA members, they will have it.”
The IEA Children’s Fund relies on donations from members, the public, and businesses to fulfill its mission of providing basic necessities to children and families in need. To donate or for more information, visit ieachildrensfund.org.