Senate Education Chairman John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene, said he backs new legislation allowing school boards to cut the salaries of experienced teachers because it beats laying off teachers. “When you’re given X number of dollars to employ teachers, either you employ less teachers and increase class size,” or reduce salaries, he said. “To me, from the standpoint of the students, it’s best to have a stable classroom.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
Asked if he expects more cuts in school funding in Idaho like the unprecedented cuts of the past few years, Goedde said yes – particularly if federal funding is cut as part of national deficit reduction efforts. For next year, however, Gov. Butch Otter has recommended a 2 percent increase in state funding for Idaho schools, and state schools Superintendent Tom Luna has called for a 3 percent increase.
Goedde disputed the recent Office of Performance Evaluations report that surveyed 2,486 Idaho teachers and found a “strong undercurrent of despair” and a climate that “disparages their efforts and belittles their contributions.” Said Goedde, “If I walk into this building on Monday morning feeling good, and everybody I talk to says ‘you’re looking bad,’ maybe I start feeling bad. I think despair is contagious, as is enthusiasm – it’s a state of mind.”
Goedde said he believes the best way to improve teacher morale in Idaho is, “We need to focus on successes.” Toward that end, he said he’s asked the Idaho Education Association, the Idaho School Boards Association, and the Idaho School Administrators Association to each bring forward examples of successes in Idaho schools. “We’ll hear them in this committee,” Goedde said. “If we can focus on positive things that are happening in education, everybody is going to be happier.”