Happy Spring! The end of the school year will be upon us before we know it. We managed to navigate the murky waters of the 2018 Legislative Session. The IEA celebrated its 126th Annual Delegate Assembly with two jam-packed and fun-filled days. Summer is on the horizon. Before we look too far to the lazy days of summer, we pause to reflect on the work from the past few months.
Across the country we note the advocacy and activism of other state affiliates, including West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Arizona. We commend our union brothers and sisters for standing up and speaking out for public education. Passionate educators across the county are using their power to demand legislators fulfill their responsibility to fund public education. Their courage and strength inspire us.
Here in Idaho members demonstrated once again their ability to roll up their sleeves and fight for what we believe in. IEA members turned out in full force during the Legislative Session, making their voices heard and their presence known. HB590, the voucher bill, propelled members into action. Members called, emailed, and texted legislators, held back home meetings with legislators, and engaged in conversations with their district, school board, and community members to protect public schools from the undermining efforts of privatization. Proactive conversations and budding relationships with legislators proved successful in aiding the defeat of HB590. The IEA united with every education stakeholder group to oppose HB590. The combined efforts of stakeholders and the high-level of member engagement proved to be the winning formula.
While Idaho continues to make progress with educator’s salaries, the state continues to lag behind surrounding states. Yes, the legislature funded the fourth year of the career ladder, but it once again provided little for veteran educators. Many districts continue to ignore the salaries of their most veteran and experienced teachers. Smaller and rural districts continue to experience an exodus as teachers move to districts that can provide compensation for those at the top. The first round of Master Educator Premium applications will be submitted in the Spring of 2019, but the jury is still out as to whether this additional stipend will help those teachers at the top of the Career Ladder. We also remain concerned about what comes next. So far there is no discussion about what happens with educator salaries after the Career Ladder completes year five.
What we do know is the voice of educators matters. We urge you to get involved this spring and summer. The Public Schools Funding Formula Committee will be holding public forums across the state. Watch for those dates, and then please attend and share your feedback. If you cannot attend, submit written feedback. We must share our stories with legislators to ensure schools receive the resources they need. Idaho’s primary election is May 15th. If you haven’t done so yet, please register to vote. In 2014 only 33% of IEA members voted in the Primary Election. We must use our power and influence as educators to ensure pro-public education candidates are elected to both the legislature and local school boards.
Idaho has come a long way since 2010, but we also know the state has room to grow. The legislature gave back over $200 million in tax breaks to businesses this year, while continuing to force many local districts to run supplemental levies to sustain programs. We know Idaho can do more and you play an important role! We need you to vote, build relationships with legislators, and activate your community to do the same. Idaho is on the right path, but we must all work together to ensure we remain on the correct course. Thank you for all you do!
President, Idaho Education Association
Executive Director, Idaho Education Association
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