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Eye On Boise

Mon., Jan. 27, 2014, 3:01 p.m.

Testimony: Change school funding formula, ‘Truly encouraged by the way the process was done,’ ‘Harm was done’

Idaho House and Senate education committee members listen to testimony at a
Idaho House and Senate education committee members listen to testimony at a "listening hearing" Monday on education issues (Betsy Russell)

In testimony at this afternoon’s “listening hearing” on education issues held by the House and Senate education committees:

Don Keller, principal of Sage International School, said he believes one item in the task force recommendations “will address the majority of the other recommendations: The need to take a look at the state educational funding formula in Idaho.” He said, “We can no longer allow for a system based on where a family chooses to live or go to school. … Policy makers and advocates need to rethink entirely how schools are funded. … They should be allocated based on equality if not equity, and not based on the relative wealth of a district and/or schools.” He pointed to newly enacted funding formulas in Canada aimed at providing even per-pupil funding, in addition to local initiatives.

Mike Vuittonet, a Meridian school board member who said he was speaking as a citizen expressing his own opinions, said, “I am in strong support of all the task force recommendations.” The task force plan, he said, “will have a strong and positive effect for our teachers, parents, students and communities at large.” He said he was also “truly encouraged by the way the process was done, that all stakeholders were brought to the table at every level,” which he called “something we don’t always get to see.” Vuittonet said he was particularly excited about the proposal for a “mastery-based” system, rather than one that moves students from one grade to the next simply based on time spent.

Victoria Young said, “Please consider, after 12 years of standards and testing for math and language arts, we have scores of scores, and students lacking the skills they need. Harm was done.  … Some districts are not ready for the switch to common core. It’s the children in those schools that will be hurt the most.” She decried standards and testing as promoting teaching to the test, saying they narrow what’s taught in schools. “Those most harmed by a narrow curriculum are those children whose parents do not have much to offer,” Young said.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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