The holidays were a wonderful time of rest and rejuvenation for all of us; and we hope for each of you too. But now, it’s back to business as usual and the Legislature is coming to town. As you and your students get back into the swing of lesson planning and homework, we are preparing for the commencement of the 2014 legislative session.
Conventional wisdom, combined with comments from legislators, points toward a potential attack on the Idaho Core Standards. Whether the plan will be to slow down or outright repeal the standards approved in the last legislative session is yet to be seen. The IEA will be working with stakeholders to educate legislators about why the Standards are good for students, and how implementation of the standards will require time for professional development; curriculum development and collaboration with colleagues. You can read more in this edition of the Reporter about the work we’ve been doing in partnership with a coalition of business leaders, education stakeholders and others to support the Idaho Core standards and get the implementation right.
With the economy continuing to trend positively, we can expect the usual debate over whether the state should be cutting taxes or increasing spending. If public schools do not receive the funding they need to operate, then local school boards will need to continue asking local property owners to tax themselves in order to keep the schoolhouse doors open and programs operating. IEA began speaking out about the need to increase funding for our schools at our “Day of Action” on the Capitol steps on December 9. You can read more about that in this edition of the Reporter. We will be working to make sure elected officials understand the necessity of reinvesting in and recommitting to public education and adequately funding our public schools. However, if Governor Otter’s recent statement that we’ll likely see “more of the same,” is accurate, then we all have our work cut out for us.
We can also expect legislative proposals from the education interim committee that met this summer. IEA testified before the interim committee about three pieces of “sunsetted” teacher contract legislation approved this past legislative session. We will continue to gather information over the next year to use in working to replace those laws with more reasonable and workable statutes.
We will also be encouraging lawmakers to lay out a plan to assure the governor’s recommendations are properly implemented and appropriately funded. Transforming our K-12 education system will require significant change. That’s why the IEA supported the 20 recommendations of the Governor’s Task Force on Education. We will continue emphasizing to legislators that the recommendations are a package, not a menu from which to choose things they like and ignore others. Some recommendations will be easier to implement because work is already underway on these issues. There are other ideas that need work to assure proper implementation. We’ll be encouraging lawmakers to fund those areas that can be implemented immediately, and urging them to commit to a plan of action for developing and implementing those recommendations that will take a bit more time.
The decisions made over the next few months will set the course for the work of school districts, the association, and educators across the state. You can take an active role in helping policymakers understand that education is an investment that pays off for Idaho. As educators, you must engage with your local legislators; build relationships, invite them into your classrooms, tell your stories about what is happening in your classrooms and how additional resources can help.
A great way to stay in touch with Legislative actions on education is to sign up to receive the daily IEA Hotline messages throughout the session. Sign up for the IEA Hotline at idahoea.org/hotline-home. Educate yourself on the issues and share your perspective with your legislators. It is your right and your responsibility to advocate for your profession and for your students. Also, be sure to contact us if you have any questions, thoughts and ideas as the session unfolds. Find out how to stay in touch during the session in the following pages.
The IEA will continue to stand strong and stand up for what is right. We ask you to stand with your colleagues and write to and call your legislators. Demand that our elected officials do what they were elected to do: to represent the people of this state and what is best for them.