Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. Though autumn signals the end of summer, for educators and students the end of summer means packing away beach wear and camping gear and replacing it with backpacks, binders, and bus schedules. The new school year is filled with all the enthusiasm and promises that come with new beginnings.
The members and staff of the Idaho Education Association have spent the summer preparing for the new school year. And we’ve been busy!
Over the past several years, much of our attention and energy has been focused on fighting to stop and ultimately overturn the three education laws hastily introduced and pushed through the legislature over objections from parents, educators, and other public school supporters in 2011.
With the rejection of Propositions 1, 2, and 3 last November, state leaders were handed an opportunity to reconsider not only the content of the reforms, but also the process used to introduce them. Over many months since the election, the several dozen members of the Governor’s Task Force have been researching and discussing a number of reform ideas.
The Idaho Education was well-represented on the task force. President Penni Cyr was joined by IEA members Brian Smith (Sandpoint), Cindy Wilson (Boise), and Teresa Jackman (Pocatello). Throughout the many months of meetings, phone calls, and email conversations, they were able to help educate other task force members about the needs of educators and students.
Some of the ideas the task force discussed were embodied in Props 2 and 3. But, they also debated and ultimately settled on a number of other ideas geared toward achieving the State Board of Education’s goal that 60 percent of Idaho citizens ages 25-34 attain at least a one-year postsecondary credential by 2020. In late August, as educators and students were preparing to begin the new school year, the task force finalized their recommendations and forwarded them on to Governor Otter. You can read more about the specific recommendations, all but one of which were approved unanimously by the members of the task force, in this edition of the IEA Reporter.
As is the case in most states that have adopted the Common Core Standards, opponents in Idaho have spent the past several months trying to derail their implementation. The IEA worked diligently this summer working with a group business leaders, child advocates, and public school proponents in support of the Idaho Core standards. We know these more rigorous standards will give students important skills to be successful in life and work and give parents confidence that their children are ready to be successful and competitive in school, work and life.
We will be working over next few months to make sure policymakers have the information and resources needed to implement and support these standards over the next few years. The IEA will continue to provide substantial training in key areas, and the NEA also has an array of valuable resources at its disposal. We’ll also be urging policymakers at the state and local levels to provide the training and support educators need to teach to these newer standards.
The IEA also spent time this summer continuing our efforts to empower members to set and accomplish goals, by imparting them with the skills and confidence they need to be strong advocates for their students, their profession, and their association. In late July and early August, the IEA held two Organizing Institutes. Over the course of several days, nearly 200 IEA members participated in these unique professional development opportunities. You can find out more about the events in this edition of the Reporter.
The past several months have also been a time of endings and beginnings for IEA staff. IEA staff members Patti Roberts, Bert Marley, and Leeann Turano all left the organization and new staff members Dave Harbison, Jason McKinley, and Matt Compton joined the IEA staff family. Again, you can read more about each of these incredibly talented individuals in this edition of the Reporter.
Finally, this edition of the IEA Reporter marks a new beginning of sorts. With this edition, we begin using a new multi-faceted format. Over the course of the coming year, you will continue to receive copies of the news magazine, and you’ll also find even more articles captured on the IEA website and other social media outlets. We’d love to hear how you like the new format.
We hope this school year is full of new personal and professional beginnings for you. As author and public speaker Marsha Petrie Sue reminds us, “Every day is a new beginning. Treat it that way. Stay away from what might have been, and look at what can be.”