The “Our Kids, Idaho’s Future” education task force approved five recommendations this week, which will be forwarded to Gov. Brad Little for consideration.
If accepted by Little, the recommendations will serve as a road map for future investment and improvement in Idaho’s K-12 public education system.
The task force’s recommendations include:
Statewide accountability focusing on efforts in K-3 literacy.
Greater all-day kindergarten opportunities to support K-3 literacy and future student achievement.
Building out and updating the career ladder to elevate the teaching profession and retain effective educators.
Addressing social and emotional issues to support student learning.
A strategic alignment and increased flexibility in the K-12 funding formula.
During a meeting at the Lewiston Tribune on Wednesday, Rod Gramer, president of Idaho Business for Education, said the recommendations bear a striking similarity to the ones that emerged through a study completed earlier this year by HP Inc., which focused on education and the economy in Idaho.
“The nice thing is that there is an alignment,” said Gramer, who served on the budget subcommittee of the governor’s task force.
Despite both entities pinpointing the same issues to focus on, Gramer said it may be difficult for the Legislature to gain momentum on the task force’s recommendations. According to Gramer, all of the Republican legislators on the task force either voted against, or abstained from voting, on the recommendations.
“It’s going to be an interesting legislative session,” Gramer said.
In a statement, Idaho Education Association President Kari Overall said the K-12 task force recommendations are a positive step forward in creating “the public schools Idaho students deserve.”
“It is imperative that we invest in our students and prioritize trust and respect in our professional educators,” Overall said. “These task force recommendations can bring us closer to that objective and will benefit Idaho students and communities.”
Little, who has declared education as his top priority, assembled the task force in May. He directed the 26 members to create a five-year plan for education that will build on the work of another education task force, which was convened by former Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter.
Justyna Tomtas may be contacted at email@example.com or (208) 848-2294. Follow her on Twitter @jtomtas.