March 7th – Dyslexia Screening and Educator Training Endorsed
Legislation directing the Idaho Department of Education to screen students for dyslexia and provide professional development training for educators about the learning disorder was unanimously approved by the House Education Committee on Friday.
House Bill 731, sponsored by Sen. Carl Crabtree (R-Grangeville), Sen. Robert Blair (R-Kendrick) and Rep. Judy Boyle (R-Midvale), was praised by committee members and in public testimony for the help the legislation could afford those with dyslexia and the process of its drafting. The IEA supported the legislation, but expressed concern with its “functionality.”
“It’s something that’s very valuable and that teachers support,” said IEA Executive Director Paul Stark. However, Stark pointed out, that past educator training requirements approved by the Legislature have suffered from the unavailability of classes. Stark also questioned who would pay the costs of the training. Despite those concerns, IEA’s members support the bill.
Working for You Archive
Feb 25th – IEA Testifies in Favor of Career Ladder and School Counselor Bills
IEA’s Associate Executive Director Matt Compton testified in favor of two bills this week that make sense for Idaho educators.
House Bill 656 allows school districts to accurately place educators moving to Idaho from out of state on Idaho’s educator career ladder. Compton testified in favor of the bill, sponsored by Rep. Julie Yamamoto (R-Caldwell), in the House Education Committee. The bill provides the appropriate career ladder cohort allocation to school districts that allow them to pay experienced, incoming educators a salary commensurate with their years of experience in other states.
House Bill 654 allows licensed professional counselors and licensed clinical professional counselors to be hired as school counselors, provided they meet the requirements of the State Board of Education. With a growing need for student mental health support, this legislation will help broaden the pool of qualified mental health professionals school districts can hire to help Idaho’s students.
Feb 25th – IEA Lobby Team Attends Superintendent Candidate Forum
Members from IEA’s lobbying team attended the Idaho School Board Association’s Superintendent Candidate Forum at the Grove Hotel on Monday. The event was part of the ISBA’s Day on the Hill, which is similar to the IEA’s Lobby Day.
The three candidates for Superintendent of Public Education — Superintendent Sharri Ybarra, former State Board of Education President Debbie Critchfield, and former Idaho Representative Brandon Durst — answered questions about their leadership style, local control, and advice to the school board members who are navigating pandemic policies. More information on the event and the candidates can be found here.
Feb 11th – Educator Health Insurance is Now Law
One of your top legislative priorities – educator access to quality, affordable health insurance – was signed into law this week by Gov.
House Bill 443, paves the way for additional funding to go to Idaho school districts so they can purchase health insurance for all district employees through the State of Idaho’s employee health insurance plan. The legislation is an extraordinary step forward for educators across Idaho, but for especially those of you in rural communities where health insurance costs often outstrip your modest educator salaries. This new law will leave you with more money in your pocket at the end of the month.
Gov. Little signed the legislation at four “teacher appreciation” rallies at schools in Melba, Post Falls, Bonneville County, and Twin Falls. IEA members were front and center for each event.
Karen Lauritzen, President of the Post Falls Education Association and a third-grade teacher at Treaty Rock Elementary School, told a gathering of the school’s students and faculty about attending IEA Lobby Day in January to talk to lawmakers about the importance of supporting public education.
“All of those conversations focused on how educators and legislators could best work together to invest in all of you, our students,” Lauritzen told the assembly. She praised Gov. Little for his historic slate of education proposals, including educator health insurance. “I was really inspired by all of his plans for learning in Idaho. He really cares about every Idaho child.”
Feb 7th – Educator Health Insurance Approved by Lawmakers
Congratulations! A top IEA legislative priority – educator access to quality, affordable health insurance – was approved by Idaho lawmakers in a final overwhelming 32-3 Senate vote on Thursday. Governor Little will sign the legislation, which was part of his historic slate of education proposals this year, into law next week during a teacher appreciation tour to schools across the state (see related story).
The bill, House Bill 443, provides additional funding to Idaho school districts allowing them to purchase health insurance for all district employees through the State of Idaho’s employee health insurance plan. The legislation is an extraordinary step forward for educators across Idaho, but especially those in rural communities where health insurance costs often outstrip your modest educator salaries. This new law will leave you with more money in your pocket at the end of the month.
“This is about more than just teachers, it’s also about the classified staff,” said Sen. Robert Blair during the floor debate. He related his wife’s experience in bringing home just 25 cents as take-home pay for her para-professional job in a local school after paying for expensive health insurance through their school district. “They (classified employees) are the backbone of these schools and our communities. My vote in favor of this bill is for them.”
In response to the IEA Delegate Assembly’s direction in April, the IEA’s advocacy team helped draft the legislation and lobbied on your behalf to make it part of Gov. Brad Little’s education recommendations. The state’s $1.9 billion budget surplus made moving the plan forward hard to argue against.
Feb 7th – Gov. Little Teacher Appreciation Tour Celebrates Educator Insurance Bill
Idaho Gov. Brad Little will travel around the state next week to celebrate the approval of HB443 — landmark legislation providing educators access to quality, affordable health insurance.
IEA members and other school officials will join Gov. Little at four schools around the state for a ceremonial and celebratory signing of the bill.
The legislation provides funding to Idaho school districts that enable them to provide insurance to all of their employees through the state health insurance plan. The IEA team worked closely with the Governor’s office to draft this legislation and lobbied on behalf of educators across Idaho to make it a part of the Governor’s education recommendations.
Here’s the schedule for the Governor’s tour:
- 10 a.m., Tues., Feb. 8 – Melba Elementary School, Melba School District
- 9 a.m., Wed., Feb. 9 – Treaty Rock Elementary School, Post Falls School District
- 1 p.m., Wed., Feb. 9 – Thunder Ridge High School, Bonneville School District
- 1 p.m., Thurs., Feb. 10 – Oregon Trail Elementary, Twin Falls School District
Feb 7th – Educators Testify in Favor of Resolution Supporting Trauma-Informed Awareness
A House Concurrent Resolution encouraging those who work with vulnerable children and adults to become trauma-informed and implement evidence-based interventions was approved by the House of Representatives Thursday. The non-binding declaration, HCR29, now moves to the Senate for consideration.
Two IEA member-educators were among several who testified in favor of the resolution in the House Health and Welfare Committee Tuesday, telling lawmakers about the desperate need for stronger social and emotional education among students, educators, and parents.
“Our students are struggling with heightened levels of anxiety, poverty, abuse, neglect, and feelings of hopelessness,” said Teresa Fritsch, a school psychologist from Sawtooth Middle School in Meridian, during her testimony. “Parents and guardians are reaching out to me, school counselors, and nurses daily seeking guidance on how they can help their children.”
Sponsored by Rep. Brooke Green (D-Boise) and Rep. Laurie Lickley (R-Jerome) the resolution outlines how understanding how “adverse childhood experiences” affect a child is critical to helping counteract trauma before it is too late. According to Green, a child with an ACE score of four or more is 12 times more likely to consider suicide. Also, children with an ACE score of seven or more are more likely to experience heart disease and other ailments later in life.
“Throughout my career I’ve learned the importance of understanding how adverse childhood experiences and trauma impact the livelihoods of these children and families, and us as a whole society,” Darcie DeLeon, a school counselor from Twin Falls, told the House committee. “I believe Resolution No. 29 is the first step to begin to really provide the support and trauma-informed training to our educators, officers, juvenile correction workers, and all other compassionate workers involved in supporting and working with vulnerable children and adults.”
Jan 28th – Educator Health Care Insurance Progresses
“Game changer” legislation that will provide you, Idaho’s educators, with quality, affordable health insurance was overwhelmingly approved by the Idaho House of Representatives on Monday.
House Bill 443, which next moves to the Idaho Senate next week, is the direct result of IEA’s 2021 Delegate Assembly last April which called for the IEA to “develop and or support acceptable legislation facilitating the ability of educators/school districts to affordably opt-in to the state health insurance plan.”
Working closely with the Governor’s office over the summer and fall, the IEA’s advocacy team helped draft the legislation and lobbied on your behalf to make it part of Gov. Brad Little’s education recommendations. The state’s $1.9 billion budget surplus made moving the plan forward hard to argue against.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for educators,” said Matt Compton, IEA’s associate executive director, who took the lead for IEA in developing the legislation and moving it forward. “Access to affordable, quality health care would be a huge benefit for many educators and their families, especially those in rural areas. Like no other time in recent history, lawmakers have the chance to truly make a difference in the lives of these noble, dedicated professionals.”
Confidence is high that the bill will receive a similarly enthusiastic reception in the Senate when it is heard in the Senate Education Committee on Monday. A floor vote in the Senate could follow closely and celebratory signing ceremony in Gov. Little’s office not long after that.
Stay tuned for more details.
Jan. 28th – IEA Legislative Briefings Available
Matt Compton, IEA Associate Executive Director, recently conducted a briefing on the 2022 legislative session for the Boise Education Association’s Representative Council. Any local or committee interested in a briefing about how IEA’s legislative priorities are faring at the Idaho Statehouse can contact Compton here.
A reminder that the legislature will be reconvening next week. They have not indicated that they will be taking up any education-related issues, but that is subject to change. The IEA legislative team will be following legislative developments. To receive a summary of legislative action relating to education, sign up for the IEA Hotline and get that information delivered to your inbox.
Getting Ahead of the 2022 Legislative Session
Associate Executive Director Matt Compton and Political Director Chris Parri met virtually and in person with Idaho lawmakers to discuss IEA’s legislative priorities ahead of the 2022 legislative session. Priorities included:
- Raising educator salaries and access to affordable healthcare.
- Focusing on all-day kindergarten for all students, regardless of district.
- The social/emotional needs of students in your classrooms.