This week, we wanted to focus once again on education, but rather than pick out a single piece of legislation, we thought we would discuss several. As you read along, it will become clear why.
Over the last several years, Gov. Butch Otter has come out with a list of critical legislative priorities that will bolster public education for Idaho students and prepare them for the 21st century workforce. These priorities were pulled from a number of different stakeholders who all have an interest in seeing Idaho’s education system improve the way it prepares children for their futures.
As mentioned last week, in the 2015 session, the Legislature funded career ladder/teacher pay legislation for teachers. They also approved annual strategic planning in each school district including public charter schools, and directed the Department of Education to facilitate the development of an incubator program, shifting to a system where students advance based upon content mastery, rather than seat-time requirements.
Another bill signed into law last year promotes the expansion of student engagement in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) within Idaho schools and passed the House and Senate with large margins. All considered improvements.
Last week, the House passed legislation to fund a computer science initiative in the public school classrooms which covers professional development for those teaching computer science, grants for schools and teachers, instructional resources, computer science learning standards and more in preparation of the 2017-2018 school year. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.
Earlier this week, the House approved a bill to allow Idahoans to receive a tax credit if they give a charitable donation to the STEM Action Center, which works to boost STEM programs throughout the state. Again, more improvements.
After looking at these bills, an interesting pattern emerged. North Idaho has a small handful of legislators who consistently vote “NO” or are “Absent” when important education bills come to the floor. The graphic below shows how your North Idaho legislators stack up to their colleagues throughout the state:
For details about intent of the law or funding go to: https://www.legislature.idaho.gov/legislation/2016/legIndex.htm
By: Sandy Patano, My Turn, cdapress.com