Letter To Legislators
“If one could do one thing to improve our country it would be to improve our schools!”
The mission of every legislator has to be to improve education in Idaho. Nothing they do is as important as creating an education system that helps our kids succeed in whatever career path they choose. This legislative session has ended and elections are near, so please make this your re-election centerpiece. Strive in every way possible to make our schools better. Our communities, our state and our nation depend
However, striving to improve our schools does not mean throwing more money at schools. That is simply not the answer, for if it were, our schools would be the best in the world. Our schools are not the best and it is NOT due to a lack of money. It is due to a failed system, which continues to plead for money as the answer, instead of reinventing itself with students, parents and taxpayers. Indeed, the one thing our schools do best is focus on the needs of school employees, not on the needs of those who need to be educated.
We can’t continue to conduct “business as usual.” It does not work! We need legislators who know and understand the true condition of our schools, which have horrendous dropout rates and low achievement. Our schools lag behind our foreign competitors in every discipline. We need legislators who are willing to say, “I am mad as hell and I am going to do something about it!”
A legislator who is committed to fixing the broken system and restoring the promises of a quality education for all Idaho students will ask tough questions about our current school system. He or she will ask why do we continue to:
- Fund a flawed transportation system where buses run all over, some nearly empty, and sometimes crossing school district boundaries with 50 percent of the bill to be paid by the state?
- Fund hundreds of administrator salaries (superintendents, assistant superintendents, curriculum directors, clerks, public information officers, federal project directors and so on) when half that amount could do the job if school districts were to consolidate?
- Fund an appropriation for teachers who achieve “National Board Certification” when there is absolutely NO correlation between that certification and student achievement?
- Maintain a funding formula that rewards districts with greater funding if they hire the most experienced and most educated teachers, when it is known that there is NO correlation between those two factors and student achievement?
- Support a funding formula that places small and rural school districts at a teacher recruitment disadvantage with the larger more urban school districts?
- Support a funding formula that provides a “stumbling block” for more charter schools?
- Ignore what most Idahoans know, that tenure, (continuing contract) for teachers is detrimental to our kids?
- Believe the education establishment’s plea, “we must have more money or our kids will suffer,” when Utah educates its students just as well as Idaho (maybe better) and for $1,000 less per student per year?
- Continue, to fund a growing bureaucracy of the Idaho Digital Learning Academy when private sector providers can do the same job better, and at less cost to the taxpayers?
- Continue to stifle education choice, such as a cap on charter schools, when the vast majority of Idahoans support charter schools and more school choice options, such as tax credits or vouchers?
- Perpetuate a flawed teacher compensation program where only time in service and credits earned determine salary and neither of which has anything to do with how well the teacher performs or how well students learn?
Place hurdles on the authorization of more charter schools when it is a known fact that they DO NOT consume any property tax and they do a better job of educating kids?
Those are hard questions, but they all need to be addressed, one at a time perhaps, but not ignored. In my 50 years of committed involvement with our schools, I have witnessed our schools become great places for the adults, but one that has gradually deteriorated for the student. Only when lawmakers are willing to ask the tough questions can our schools improve. If our schools are improved, we will leave to our kids and grandkids a state and a nation that is far better off than it is today.