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Sunday, April 20, 2014

More teachers, less talk

Posted Wednesday, January 30, 2013, at 8:23 AM

This Friday, Feb. 1, the state House and Senate education committees will hold a "listening hearing" -- a rare chance for the public to actually comment on and recommend proposed legislation for education.

This should be a good move, considering several key legislative committees have decided this year to not open their deliberations up for public comment (they actually got some last time around, but since it wasn't what they wanted they decided it was better to not hear the public than be in a position where they had to ignore it).

House Education Committee Chairman Reed DeMordaunt said he wants to invite everyone to share their thoughts on improving Idaho's public schools.

Our House and Sentate leaders will give "everyone" 2.5 hours -- from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., total -- to offer their solutions. Speak fast.

Meanwhile, the governor learned a lesson and decided to put together a task force to come up with ways to improve education, but it isn't going to be rushed (which is good). Its recommendations will go before next year's legislature.

And two years after it probably should have done it, the Idaho Education Association has put forward its blueprint to move education forward. Probably 80 percent of it has considerable merit. We urge you to go to the IEA website and look up the considerable details. In some areas it might be a little heavy on "ed speak" jargon, but most people can get past that to the basic ideas, and at least it's a plan put together by experts in the field (unlike our legislators, some of whom never even graduated from high school -- no joke).

The legislature and the current superintendent have done their very best to break the public school system, yet it's managed to hang in there, even as the cream of the student crop was skimmed off for the taxpayer-supported virtually private (charter) schools where students enjoy low student-to-teacher ratios. Meanwhile the legislature drove up the student-to-teacher ratios for public schools with massive funding cuts that forced districts to cut back on the number of teachers they could pay.

In the end, no matter what whistles and bells get conjured up for "education reform," the one thing that really makes the difference is a low student-to-teacher ratio, which gives teachers a chance to spend more time working with children who are struggling. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out. We need more teachers. It's that simple. Nothing would create a fix faster than replacing, and adding to, the teachers we lost in the classrooms over the last 3-4 years.

Get those class sizes down again, then we can talk about all the other whistles and bells.

* * *

True story: In Twin Falls, a man broke into another man's home and attacked him with a ratchet. The homeowner drove off the attacker with a screwdriver.

Obviously, to make the world safer, we need fewer ratchets and more screwdrivers. Maybe we should make every teacher have a screwdriver in their desk (after proper training, of course). Then, when there's a loose nut and a ratchet....

-- Kelly Everitt


Comments
Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

Ahhh yes...and appointing the latest member to the MHSD Board was also a step in the "right" direction for the tax payers of MH and overall education (it is all about the kids). Nothing like appointing a former MHSD employee to the Board. Another yes "man" for Jim Alexander. Way to go folks. I am sure she will be good at helping you guys to engineer the next levy. Maybe you should have "appointed" CD Houston to that open spot as at one point he had won the election. Nawwwww, why do that?

-- Posted by OpinionMissy on Wed, Jan 30, 2013, at 10:49 AM

Good points Mr. Everett but if teacher to student ratios are such a concern and Charter Schools have a significantly lower ration. I suggest that parents who are concerned should look into the Charter Schools. My daughter was enrolled at MHHS as a freshman and struggled to learn. She failed two classes and didn't do very in most of her other classes. For her sphomore year we chose to enroll her in the local charter school and she did fantastic. She managed to make up the two classes that she failed the previous year and her grades improved in all of her other subjects as well. I credit the teachers and staff for the improvement and recommend that more parents should look into charter schools. No matter what you hear they have to meet the same standards and hold the same credentials as the public school.

With that said I will concede that charter schools are not for everyone. Parents need to investigate and then decide if it's right for their student.

-- Posted by TundraRat on Wed, Jan 30, 2013, at 12:29 PM

Is CD's name on the wall at the school board meeting room yet. since he was in and then out again will they be erasing Mr. Murrays name. I hope not. Murray earned his spot. (so did CD)

-- Posted by R&M on Wed, Jan 30, 2013, at 1:39 PM

I would think Mr houston would have been the first person to ask to fill out the term. Then if he declined then a wider search could be done.

-- Posted by gmoney on Fri, Feb 1, 2013, at 5:19 PM

Hmmm...you do have one good point Mr. Everitt. I find that I rarely agree with your philosophy but must agree that reducing class size is an important first step in reforming education in Idaho. I did as you suggested and went to the IEA website to review their plan and looked through what I believe is their entire site (couldn't access the educator's materials) but found no blueprint there. I did find a link for the Education Excellence Task Force but there was only a dated and extremely brief introduction to what the task force would be doing in the future, a letter from the General Counsel pleading to the Administrators to reconcile differences with the teachers (apparently there is allot of bad blood between the two groups) and a couple of victory speeches from Mike Lanza and Maria Greeley. Maria did mention "Common Core" however, I am not sure if that was the plan that you made reference to above. I could not find the "considerable details" that you wrote of. Perhaps someone can provide a link to this blueprint?

-- Posted by GetRealNow on Sun, Feb 3, 2013, at 1:58 AM


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