Taking ed reform from talk to action — in January

As the legislative season approaches, some political and education leaders are working to keep alive the era of good feeling that characterized Gov. Butch Otter’s Task Force for Improving Education last fall.

The latest example is a rally by the Idaho Education Association at 4 p.m. today on the Capitol steps (dress warmly) bringing together teachers, parents and students in support of the task force’s 20 recommendations.

Last week, Democratic legislative leaders drew some encouraging support from Republican leaders after introducing four bills that would essentially put the recommendation into law and then let education officials sort out the details.  “The opposition party demonstrated a very productive avenue for us when they brought forth bills that would engage the Task Force that I put together on education,” Otter told the Idaho Associated General Contractors on Friday.

But make no mistake. Both these events are warm-ups. Gov. Butch Otter’s State of the State address at 1 p.m. Jan. 6 will set the tone the debate on education reform will take through the Legislature.

In the past, lawmakers have balked at governors’ plans. Almost certainly, lawmakers will tinker with them.

Some observers think the broad-based support task force recommendations enjoy from educators, politicians, parents, business leaders and others could evaporate once the Legislature moves beyond a broad set of principles and into the nitty-gritty details.

Otter says he’s pleased with the bipartisan support for his task force’s recommendation.

But he is not speaking much about what he will say when he addresses the Legislature.

One hint: He’s thinking long-term — a five-year plan, with the first year etched in more detail.

The first-year plan won’t hit all the recommendations, Otter said in a recent online chat with Idaho Statesman readers. “I will have a strategy for continued collaboration among education stakeholders and policy-makers in the effort to bring this substantive and comprehensive vision into reality.”

While you are waiting for his State of the State speech, you can review those ed reform recommendations and replay the Idaho Statesman’s web chat with Otter and members of his task force.

Posted in In The Classroom