Posts tagged: Education Task Force
Here’s a link to my full story at spokesman.com on the rare moment of bipartisanship on school reform in Idaho that occurred today, as Democratic state lawmakers unveiled four far-reaching bills Wednesday, and GOP state schools Superintendent Tom Luna endorsed them. Within hours, GOP Gov. Butch Otter and House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, also had encouraging words about the Democrats’ bills, which would enact into law the 20 recommendations from a task force that Otter appointed to chart the future of education reform in Idaho. Those items range from restoring $82 million a year in operational funds cut from the schools in recent years’ budget cuts, to new ways to determine when students should advance to the next grade; here’s a link to the full task force recommendations.
Three members of the governor’s education stakeholders’ task force, which delivered a near-unanimous package of 20 recommendations to improve Idaho’s schools to Gov. Butch Otter this year, told the City Club of Boise today that it’s a mistake to focus on the potential price tag, which could eventually stretch to hundreds of millions of dollars.
“I’ve heard a lot of pushback about the cost - sticker shock’s got everybody,” said Richard Westerberg, a state Board of Education member who chaired the task force. “But I’ve yet to hear the first real criticism of the recommendations in the plan on its function. They’re good recommendations. Can it all be funded in one year? Of course not.” Westerberg said the recommendations are a framework, and the state needs to come up with a plan to accomplish it over time, while also filling in the details. “There’s a whole lot of heavy lifting that needs to be done here,” he said. “You’ve got a really good plan from a bunch of smart, dedicated folks saying, ‘Here’s what we think could help.’ I think the Legislature really wants to do right this year. I’m hopeful.”
Linda Clark, superintendent of the Meridian School District, the state’s largest district, said across the nation, states spend an average of roughly $10,000 per student to educate youngsters, while Idaho spends less than half that. “Can you fund a ‘world class’ school system at 50 percent of the average?” she asked. Years of budget cuts have cost her school district $10 million a year in state funding for basic operations, she said, and left it 117 teachers and 19 administrators below the state allocation. “That results in very high class sizes and very large work portfolios for folks. I’m concerned that as we track that over time, it will have an impact on achievement.”
Mike Lanza, a Boise parent who played a key role in the campaign to overturn the “Students Come First” school reform laws, said, “We’re not attempting to take a small step. … Because we’ve been disinvesting in education, we’ve put ourselves at a disadvantage.” He said, “It’s not hyperbolic to suggest that Idaho is on its way to becoming the Mississippi of the 21st century if we don’t start to do something about this. … We’ve basically created an inexpensive school system, which is not necessarily compatible with a great school system.”
Westerberg said the latest estimates show that by 2020, 60 to 66 percent of jobs in Idaho will require some education beyond high school, whether that’s college or a one-year certification. But now, he said, just over a third of the population gets that. “This state just is not ready for the future of employment,” he said. Meanwhile, the task force members noted that as Idaho has crimped its education funding, it’s fallen in relation to other states in personal income, and risen to first in the nation for the proportion of minimum-wage jobs. All three said a better education system is key to Idaho’s economic future, and noted that, surprisingly, the 31 diverse members of the task force virtually all agreed on what’s needed.
“While this level of collaboration and collegiality is not unprecedented in Idaho, it has been a very long time,” Clark said. Said Lanza, “There’s not a lot of disagreement … on what it takes to deliver education effectively. … We need the political will to do what many people understand needs to be done.”
Legislative budget writers are hearing a presentation this morning on the education stakeholders task force recommendations, which have been endorsed by Gov. Butch Otter and state schools Superintendent Tom Luna. “If the recommendations were implemented today, it’s a range of $346 million to $406 million dollars” in fiscal impact to the state, legislative budget analyst Paul Headlee told the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee. That estimate is for the minimum costs. Some of the 20 recommendations from the task force wouldn’t require more state spending, such as moving to a “mastery-based” system for advancing students from one grade to the next; enhancing pre-service teaching opportunities; and adopting new teacher preparation recommendations.
The priciest items on the list: $82 million to restore operational funds cut from the schools during the state’s economic downturn, and $252 million for a new career ladder system for paying teachers, which would include substantially boosting pay and shifting to a three-tiered professional licensing system. Luna this week unveiled his budget request for next year, which seeks to phase in the proposals over the next five to six years.
Headlee noted that the career ladder recommendation, if phased in over six years as recommended, would cost $42 million next year, split into $26 million for the first year of the new ladder, and $15.9 million for leadership awards. That’s roughly equivalent to a 3.7 percent increase in teacher pay overall next year for the career ladder changes, and another 2.2 percent from the leadership awards. You can see Headlee’s full presentation here.
“Within this model, an instructor could conceivably move backwards, if their evaluation shows they’re not achieving,” Headlee said, or if they move backwards on the licensure tiers. “So the ladder possibly could move both ways. There’s more detail that needs to be worked out on this.”
As far as the operational funding, Headlee noted that the cost to restore the funds – which are apportioned out to school districts through a per-classroom formula – will rise each year. Those funds have dropped from nearly $25,700 per classroom unit before the recession to just $20,000 this year. The $82 million figure is how much the restoration would cost this year. Next year, projections show there will be about 82 more classrooms, pushing the cost up to about $84 million. If the restoration is phased over five years, the cost would be about $115 million.
Overall, funding all the task force recommendations would require an increase in Idaho’s public school budget of between 26.5 and 31.1 percent, Headlee calculated.
Richard Westerberg, who headed the governor's 31-member education stakeholders task force, outlined the group's 20 recommendations to lawmakers this morning, and noted that a public comment period is now open - people can submit their comments on the recommendations until Sept. 27 for consideration. Comments can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. There's more info here.
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.
Idaho Gov. Butch Otter today endorsed the sweeping recommendations of his school reform task force, including restoring tens of millions cut from school budgets during Idaho's recession years. “It met every one of my expectations of what we could come out with,” the governor said.
Otter said he's asked his Division of Financial Management to put a price tag on the 21 proposals. “We know it’s going to be roughly $350 million bucks,” he said. “We … know we can’t do that in one year, we can’t do that in two years, or maybe three years. But what we can do is set ourselves on a course that we accomplish so much each year, and … four or five years out, we’ve accomplished the entire package.”
The recommendations include big increases in teacher pay as part of a new 'career ladder;' advancing students to the next grade only when they've mastered the material; changing the school funding formula; boosting school technology; raising standards for student achievement; expanding professional development and mentoring for teachers; a new tiered professional licensing structure; and more.
Otter, who spoke about the reforms in response to questions at his annual “Governor’s Address to the Business Community” speech to the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce today, said he met with legislative leaders this morning and discussed the task force recommendations, which were developed by a 31-member panel he appointed to represent all sides in the school reform debate, including both opponents and backers of Idaho’s failed “Students Come First” school reforms; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
The governor's education stakeholders task force has agreed on a slew of recommendations to recommend to Gov. Butch Otter, from a teacher career ladder program that could cost $253 million over six years, to advancing students based on mastery of subjects or concepts rather than grades. Idaho EdNews reporter Kevin Richert has a rundown at his blog here; click below for a report on some of the recommendations from AP reporter John Miller, including a near-unanimous vote to endorse the new Idaho Core standards for student achievement. Richert also has posted a report here on today's outcome, its remarkable unanimity compared to the school reform fight that preceded it, and what happens next.
A list of the approved recommendations from the State Board of Education is online here, along with a link to details in lengthier documents from today's meetings.
The governor's education stakeholders task force is now getting into something of a debate over Idaho Core standards; Idaho Education News reporter Kevin Richert is following today's debate in a live blog here, and you can watch the meeting live here. So far, the task force has voted on one recommendation from its “structural change” subcommittee, unanimously backing a “mastery based” education system. That means students advance based on content mastery, rather than “seat time” requirements.
The governor’s education stakeholders task force has convened this morning, to begin assembling its final recommendations to Gov. Butch Otter. Chairman Richard Westerberg told the group, “There’s been a considerable amount of work been done and we’ll see the fruits of that work the rest of today, and hopefully get it to the finish line with a set of recommendations that we can forward on to the governor.” First, he said, each of the task force’s subcommittees will meet for 30 minutes to work through their recommendations. Then, the full task force will reassemble at 9:45 and each subcommittee chair will present their panel’s recommendations. Task force members will ask “clarifying questions” on each proposal, and when they all understand it, they’ll take a vote on whether or not to include it in their final recommendations for the governor.
“We’ll do that on each of the recommendations,” Westerberg said.
The draft recommendations from subcommittees of the governor's education stakeholders task force are out; Kevin Richert of Idaho Education News has a report here, and you can see the recommendations here, along with the agenda for tomorrow's task force meeting, which will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Hatch Ballroom at the BSU student union building. The 31-member task force is scheduled to consider its subcommittees' recommendations Friday and decide on its recommendations to Gov. Butch Otter. You can listen live here.
Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A preliminary list of recommendations created by Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter's new Task Force for Improving Education shows a focus on recouping lost education dollars and improving the workforce by paying teachers more money. The Idaho Statesman (http://bit.ly/18JYBRn ) reports the preliminary list includes a draft recommendation to raise minimum teacher salaries from $31,000 to $40,000 statewide, and to seek to restore $82.5 million in operational revenue that school districts have lost since 2008. The recommendations aren't final — task force members are expected to meet Friday to further discuss the list, which reflects subcommittee recommendations to the full task force. The task force was created eight months ago to bring stakeholders together after a stormy education fight that led to the defeat of the Students Come First laws in a referendum last November.