Opportunity for every Idaho child

Guest Opinion

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Penni Cyr, president, Idaho Education Association

We are pleased that Governor Otter’s number one recommendation in the Jan.9 State of the State address was to honor the commitment that has been made to fully fund year three of the Career Ladder salary allocation model. Investing in our public schools and in our dedicated professional educators is critical to the future success of Idaho’s children and to the continued growth of our communities and our state. We look forward to seeing further details of the governor’s budget and encourage the legislature to stand up for students and teachers in Idaho by fulfilling their promise to fund the Career Ladder.

As Governor Otter noted, the State of Idaho is resurgent, and our revenues are exceeding expectations. It is our hope and expectation that Idaho’s investment in education will reflect, and keep pace with, the robust growth in our economy. A well-educated and highly-trained work force is essential to attracting business opportunities to Idaho and a strong public education system is the key to building that work force. It is time to reduce the financial burdens that have been placed on teachers, schools and local communities. We must ensure that our schools are adequately funded and that we have the resources to compete with surrounding states for quality teachers.

We are encouraged that the governor has recognized the dilemma that increasing heath care costs presents in public education. However, we believe that instead of creating a new line item for insurance that removes district flexibility, the discretionary budget should be increased, allowing districts the control and flexibility to fund health care costs and other priorities as they see fit.

The IEA will be watching closely as the legislature deals with the troublesome evaluation process. The governor identified training for administrators as a key component in a credible evaluation system, and we look forward to working with all education stakeholders to develop an evaluation process that is fair, equitable and efficient. The much-publicized flaws in the current evaluation process are unfortunate and need to be addressed, but are in no way indicative of the quality or dedication of Idaho’s incredible teachers.

Opportunity for every child is the backbone of our education system and our best hope for the future prosperity of the great state of Idaho. As we embark on the 2017 legislative session, we would do well to remember that very simple premise as we make critical decisions about our investment in public education and the policies that accompany our investment.

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