Congressman Butch Otter put out a press release today saying he’s for expanding Idaho’s community college system and emphasizing math and science in Idaho schools. He didn’t say how he’d do that, however, beyond calling on “the corporate community – especially technology and health-care employers – to work with him and state education officials to regularly put professional scientists, engineers and other experts in every Idaho school to promote the importance of math and science in students’ lives and potential careers,” according to his campaign press release.
Otter also released a statement from Micron Technology CEO Steve Appleton, former Albertson’s Chairman Gary Michael, St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center official Janelle Reilly and education advocate Joe Scott saying Otter “has the drive, decisiveness and vision to make Idaho’s education system the envy of the nation.”
Otter’s Democratic opponent, Jerry Brady, responded, “It’s no news that people who have already contributed to Otter are supporting Otter. The real news is he really doesn’t have any plan with which to do what he wants to do. He favors more math and science, but he doesn’t support Proposition 1 as I do, which would provide money for math and science. He doesn’t have a specific plan for community colleges. It’s just the same stuff that’s been in his literature from day one, and leadership requires that you step up and make the hard decisions.”
Earlier this month, Brady and Democratic candidate for state school superintendent Jana Jones released a “Contract for Kids” stating seven principles and three solutions they support for improving education in Idaho. That same day, Otter and Republican candidate for state school superintendent Tom Luna released a statement saying they supported all seven of the Democrats’ principles and all three solutions, but also wanted to add more school choice, through more charter schools and other measures, to the list of solutions. “We all agree with returning control to parents, promoting character development and sustainable funding for public schools,” Otter and Luna said in their joint statement, “but that does not mean approving of the same old Democrat ‘solutions’ for reaching those goals that got us where we are today.”
Proposition 1 would require Idaho to increase funding for its public schools by more than $200 million a year. Brady and Jones support it; Luna and Otter oppose it. Otter first endorsed the measure, then switched his position in August and came out against it.