Approach to Educational Reform in Idaho

Governor Otter should be praised for his efforts in putting together a special group of talented teachers, school superintendents, parents, administrators, and state board members which now comprise the Task Force for Improving Education in the State of Idaho. They have been assigned the task of traveling to seven different Idaho cities actively asking input from individuals or parents on ways to improve education in the state of Idaho.

Dr. Sigmund Freud

Dr. Sigmund Freud, the famous Australian physician, and psychiatrist believed the formative years for a child’s emotional, physical, and cognitive development happen during the first five to six years of life. But is our state making enough efforts to facilitate the cognitive, educational or emotional development of our children during these juvenile years? Not really!

Quality early education for young minds is critical to developing how they accomplish, learn, and mature physically and emotionally in their subsequent grade levels. Kindergarten should be mandatory for all public elementary schools in the State of Idaho along with reducing the number of students in a class so that students can receive more personalized attention during these impressionable years from highly qualified paraprofessionals.

The positions like media specialist, social worker, counselor curtailed due to budgetary constraints need to be restored in both elementary and secondary schools. It is necessary to have coordination, collaboration, and support among state and local educational organizations for a head start and pre-kindergarten programs is required to ensure that our kids have a better academic and emotional base to enter kindergarten, and truly have the opportunity to not only succeed but to exceed educational performance benchmarks!

Parent education classes are essential so that parents understand what role they play in their child's education.

Currently, most of the qualified teachers from Idaho mainly from elementary schools have left education system or moved to different states. The question is if Idaho keeps losing its best teachers how will the children be provided with the best education in their formative years. This loss is due to the reason other states offer more competitive salaries and benefits packages as they realize and value the role of these teachers in educating their future leaders.

Teachers need to be respected and financially compensated at competitive, market rates if we are to retain them in the future. The brightest young adults select not to pursue a degree in education because of the low starting base salary for teachers there is no appeal to seek out teaching majors at Idaho University. To have better teachers and get the brightest young minds to pursue teaching it is important to significantly raise the base salary.

To conclude, some of the major crucial problems affecting the quality of public education in Idaho include the need for smaller class sizes across the elementary and secondary school level; media specialists, qualified paraprofessionals, social workers, counselors, and police officers in the elementary and secondary schools; the heightened attention and commitment to childhood programs; parent education classes; qualified teachers, qualified teachers; and a significant increase in the starting base salary for new teachers.

The quality educational change will not happen if the state schools continue to have unfunded mandates. These schools have little chance or no chance of recovering without access to the relevant resources and financial help to implement them properly. So it is the time the State of Idaho Legislature makes a long term, serious financial commitment to fund the educational programs and work towards the betterment of the teachers and improving the salary structure and with the best paraprofessionals are it will eventually result in the young students from the state schools of Idaho also excelling in their educational efforts.