Eye On Boise

Ed task force posts, submits final report

The final report of the governor's education stakeholders task force has been submitted to Gov. Butch Otter and posted online; you can see it here. The report offers detail on the task force and its 20 recommendations (there were 21, but two were consolidated due to duplication), which range from literacy to advanced learning, from restoring operations funding for schools lost through recent budget cuts to substantially boosting Idaho teacher pay through a new career ladder, and from statewide electronic collaboration to more training and mentoring for teachers and administrators and a new tiered professional licensing system. The 31-member task force drew together all sides in the school reform debate, including both opponents and backers of Idaho’s voter-rejected Students Come First school reforms; it included lawmakers, teachers, administrators, school board members, parents, union representatives, activists, officials and business leaders.

The panel worked on its recommendations for eight months, including seven hearings across the state and extensive work in subcommittees. Otter praised the task force's plan last month, saying, “It met every one of my expectations," and said he's trying to attach a price tag to the plan - which he said likely will be about $350 million - and a proposal for implementing it over four or five years. The Idaho Statesman reported yesterday that state schools Superintendent Tom Luna, who pushed the voter-rejected reform plan, is strongly backing the new task force plan - he served on the task force and voted for the recommendations - and acknowledging missteps in pushing his earlier plan, which sought to roll back teachers' collective bargaining rights, impose a new merit-pay system, and put a new focus on online learning while supplying every high school student with a laptop computer.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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