‘This Bill is an Insult to the Professionalism of Idaho’s Certified Educators’ 

The Idaho Education Association on Tuesday stood in defense of the education profession Tuesday as it opposed legislation that would all but eliminate educator certification requirements for charter school teachers.  

Senate Bill 1291, sponsored by Sen. Carl Crabtree (R-Grangeville), allows charter schools to hire applicants with any bachelor’s degree, as opposed to hiring only certified educators. If approved by lawmakers, the bill also gives charter schools the option of creating a school-specific charter educator certificate that could be honored by another charter school. 

The legislation was endorsed, with minor technical amendments, by the Senate Education Committee in a 6-2 vote on Tuesday. Sens. Janie Ward-Engelking (D-Boise) and David Nelson (D-Moscow) voted against the measure. After being amended, it will likely go to the full Senate for consideration.  

IEA Executive Director Paul Stark testified against the legislation. Here’s his full testimony:  

Chairman Thayn, Members of the Committee, my name is Paul Stark and I’m the executive director of the Idaho Education Association. I am here to testify in in opposition to Senate Bill 1291.  

This legislation represents a significant and unacceptable lowering of the bar for the standards of those we entrust to teach our children. It jeopardizes the educational opportunities of Idaho’s children by placing an unqualified, untrained, uncertified individual at the front of a classroom and calling them a teacher.    

Currently, certified teachers are not only certified experts in specific content areas like math, science and language arts, but they also rely on a deep well of training beyond typical classroom subjects.   

They must:  

  • Pass a Praxis exam  
  • Be endorsed in a specific content area  
  • Attend an approved preparation program for the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)  
  • Earn endorsements in the Idaho Comprehensive Literacy Assessment and Mathematical Teaching for Instruction  
  • Be accredited at an institution with an educator preparation program approved by the Idaho State Board of Education  

Beyond that, educators are experts in the learning behind learning – the pedagogy and scholarship of teaching itself. In their training, they learn how to make connections, build relationships, and create a learning environment. They learn about the educator code of ethics – any training on the code of ethics is absent here. They are trained to understand diverse learners and how to meet their needs. As student teachers, they learn about the social and emotional needs of students and how to create a safe learning environment for all through specific classroom management skills. They learn how to assess and measure student growth, accuracy, and mastery.  

By becoming certified, they become professional educators.  

But under Senate Bill 1291, the only things needed to be considered a teacher in our state would be a bachelor’s degree and a background check. There is no training in any of the areas I just mentioned. 

Today, a teacher must be certified in a content area to teach it. You must know how to TEACH math, history, or English before you are allowed to teach them.  

Under Senate Bill 1291, simply having a bachelor’s degree in accounting would make one eligible to teach history and English. Someone with a degree in welding could find themselves teaching special education or calculus. This is all possible and permissible under this bill., 

Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, I must ask what good would this bill do for our students? How will this legislation help kids?   

The simple answer is: it won’t help them. In fact, there’s a great risk that it will hurt them.  

In closing, Mr. Chairman, I must say that this bill is an insult to the professionalism of Idaho’s certified educators. What does this tell them? It tells them their certification doesn’t mean much. 

There will never be a good time to make the professional commitment of our educators irrelevant – as this bill does. But for it to come on the heels of the two most difficult years to ever face the education profession – after we’ve asked so much of them through this pandemic – it is, quite simply, an insult to injury.   

On behalf of all the certified educators in Idaho and, most importantly, all of their students, I ask for your ‘no’ vote on Senate Bill 1291.  

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I’ll be happy to stand for any questions. 

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