BOISE – A resolution to try to bring Idaho’s beginning teacher pay up to $35,000 and its average teacher pay to $55,000 by 2008 failed narrowly in the Idaho Senate on Wednesday.
The teacher pay resolution, SCR 111, failed on a 15-19 vote after almost an hour of debate. Among those speaking out was Sen. Mike Jorgenson, R-Hayden Lake, who said, “If it were within the state’s power and my vote to provide higher incomes to teachers, I would support that. … I’d probably throw in a car too.”
But Jorgenson said, “This is not about the kids – this is about a poor recommendation that we’re all going to regret, and it doesn’t deal with reality. Our focus should be on raising student achievement, not just on raising salaries.”
Sen. Brent Hill, R-Rexburg, said he didn’t think the state could afford the promised salaries, even in 2008. “To make empty promises is not only inappropriate, it’s cruel,” he said.
Sen. Shawn Keough, R-Sandpoint, first disclosed that she’s married to “one of the greatest teachers in the state.” Keough then told the Senate, “I know that this resolution won’t put any more money in my checkbook, but it does confirm a commitment to the teachers that we appreciate what they do. … They are asked to do things that people in this body wouldn’t do for any amount of money.”
Backers of the measure acknowledged that meeting the goal would mean Idaho would have to spend millions more on teacher salaries in the future, but said the commitment was important.
North Idaho senators split on the resolution, with Sens. Keough, Joyce Broadsword, R-Sagle, and Gary Schroeder, R-Moscow, voting in favor; and Sens. Dick Compton and John Goedde, both R-Coeur d’Alene, and Jorgenson voting against.
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