Democratic lawmakers back bills supporting ed reform

Idaho Democratic lawmakers are pushing for adoption of four bills that would put Gov. Butch Otter’s ed reform task force recommendations into law.

The bills call for state agencies to work out rules on a number of the recommendations.

The House and Senate Democratic caucuses are seeking bipartisan support for the bills intended to keep the task force’s 20 recommendations intact.

Thirty-one business, government and education leaders and parents worked for eight months developing the list of recommendations. Those include restoring $82.5 million lost to school districts during the recession, tabbing $250 million for a career ladder that both raises teacher pay and strengthens teacher accountability, and developing an educational system based on students mastering subjects, not the length of time they sit in class.

The recommendations were approved by the task force with barely a dissenting voice.

“If a group that is as diverse as the education task force can come together and agree, we should honor that by implementing their recommendations,” said State Rep. Hy Kloc, D-Boise. “I hope the entire Legislature can show the same commitment to problem-solving that the members of the task force have shown.”

Democrats say the recommendations coming out of the task force should not be chopped up and separated. They are part of a whole plan for education reform, said Grant Burgoyne, D- Boise,  assistant House minority leader.

The bills are broadly written. They call for restoration of the $82.5 million in district operational money, but don’t address specific appropriations to reach the goal.

Another bill directs the Idaho State Board of Education to put together an accountability structure for  public schools. It would include a district strategic plan, an annual memorandum establishing expectations and a year-end status report showing how well districts measured up.

“We all have a common goal of giving our children the best educational opportunities that we can. I believe these bills give all legislators an opportunity to work toward that goal.”

Gov. Butch Otter and three members of his task force will answer questions about the recommendations from the public during a live chat at IdahoStatesman.com at 11 a.m. Thursday.

You can register for an email reminder of the chat here:

Posted in In The Classroom