Early Meetings Set the Stage, Heavy Lifting Still to Come
The new K-12 task force convened by Gov. Brad Little, Our Kids—Idaho’s Future, has been steadily going about its work in recent weeks, with the main task force holding a pair of meetings and each of the four subcommittees meeting once. The time window is relatively short, with the task force expected to finalize no more than five or six recommendations by November.
President Kari Overall and current Idaho Teacher of the Year Marc Beitia represent the IEA and classroom teachers on the main task force. However, the bulk of the 26-person group is made up of legislators and business leaders. Additionally, IEA members Peggy Hoy (Twin Falls), Stephanie Myers (Boise), and Marianne Sletteland (Potlach) serve on task force subcommittees. However, only five out of more than eighty participants on subcommittees are classroom educators. This is why it’s critical they hear from educators, like us, on the real challenges facing public education in Idaho.
At our request, the Governor’s office has set up an email address for the task force to receive public input, OKIF@gov.idaho.gov. We encourage IEA members to share their insight and stories about what is really happening in classrooms across the state and what steps could be taken to improve student achievement and strengthen Idaho public schools. Please be respectful and offer constructive, specific ideas and input.
IEA members are writing in to share their insight on issues like these they believe the task force should be focused on:
- Investing in compensation increases for educators, especially veteran teachers.
- Community schools and increases in support personnel such as nurses, counselors, and librarians.
- Expansion of full-day kindergarten.
- Equitable funding for rural schools and a decreased reliance on local levies.
“Professional educators speaking up and advocating for these priorities will be crucial to ensuring the needs of teachers and students are met,” says Overall. “Having IEA members engaged in the political process will be very important as the task force does its work and will need to carry over to the 2020 legislative session and the next election cycle.”
K-12 Task Force Gets to Work
The main task force first met June 3 in Boise. This was primarily a getting-to-know-you meeting and planning session, with Greg Wilson from the governor’s office and task force co-chairs Debbie Critchfield and Bill Gilbert sharing their vision and expectations. The task force has been instructed to develop their recommendations around two main objectives—early literacy, and college/career readiness. (Listen to our podcast with Debbie Critchfield for more information about the task force goals).
The second meeting of the main task force took place July 1 in Twin Falls. The group heard several presentations, including from the State Department of Education related to Idaho’s Accountability Framework, administrators from the Bruneau-Grandview and Jerome school districts, and the Idaho Workforce Development Council. Much of the session was spent discussing accountability and data management. The next main task force meeting is tentatively set for August 1 in Moscow.
Each of the four subcommittees has held one meeting thus far. Those subcommittees are:
- K-12 Budget Stability
- Teacher Pipeline
- Rural and Underserved Schools
- School Facilities and School Safety
Please follow the IEA on Facebook for updates and developments from the K-12 task force.