Ed reform comes with a price tag, parents and teachers say

More money for classrooms.

More support for special ed.

More teacher training.

No more Common Core.

Teachers, parents and business people filled the Lincoln Auditorium at the Capitol to near capacity Thursday  night to tell the Governor’s Task Force on Improving Education what they think needs to be done to make schools better.

Most of it starts with dollar signs.

People practically pleaded with government to put more money into schools.

Return tax levels to the 1990s and use the money to fund education, said Phoebe Smith, a parent.

Steve Smylie, an educator, former legislator and state schools chief candidate,  put it succinctly: Ed reform is going to cost money and so far, Idaho doesn’t seem willing to pay for it.

Mike Ferguson, the state’s former chief economist who now heads the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy, said Idaho’s financial commitment to education is diminishing. In the 1980s and 1990s, 4.4 percent of the state’s personal income — wages, profits, investments and government payments — went toward education. That is down to 3.4 percent, he said.

It was the fervent opponents of Common Core, a set of standards for teaching kids that is being adopted throughout most of the country including Idaho, that held much of the night’s discussion.

They branded it as federal intrusion into local education affairs. They worried their children’s information would be pumped through government databases. They warned that Common Core preached collectivism.

One speaker called it “perverse”. One said it was designed to create a workforce to serve the central state.

Midway through the forum, Idaho Department of Education officials tweeted out its myth busters response to critics. The state has adopted Common Core standards and they will be a basis for instruction in Idaho schools next year, with statewide testing expected to follow soon.

Says the Ed Department:

– The feds fingerprints are not all over Common Core. They have never reviewed the standards, which cover English and math. Development of standards was state led.

– Standards for how Idaho teaches history, government and political science has not changed and is not part of the Common Core standards adopted by the state.

– Government officials won’t transfer kid’s academic and other information from agency to agency as part of Common Core. Idaho has a longitudinal data system gathering information on students. Reported information out of the department is aggregated, not individualized.

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Posted in In The Classroom, Our Towns