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What to Make of Idaho Statistics and School Performance
posted by: Cindy Omlin | March 19, 2014, 10:23 PM   


scott bedkeSpeaker Bedke notes in his March 19 Times News op-ed, “Idaho’s Education: The Rest of the Story,” that although Idaho’s public education system ranks 50th in the nation for spending per pupil, that does not translate into 50th in the nation in performance.  Take heart Idaho educators and students!  

The Speaker 
cites more positive statistics from the Report Card of American Education:

  1. Idaho ranks 29th overall and outperforms its neighboring states of Oregon, Utah, California and Arizona.
  2. Idaho receives a B- in Education Policy, with only six states receiving a higher grade.
  3. Idaho ranks 28th in fourth grade reading proficiency.
  4. Idaho ranks 19th in eighth grade reading proficiency.
  5. In eighth grade math, only 32 percent of students are below basic, which ranks Idaho in 11th place.

 Additionally, research conducted by Idaho’s Legislative Services Office determined that Idaho ranks 16th nationwide on the ACT test.

We must continue to work hard for improvements to the education system, but we must also remember to honor the accomplishments and sacrifices made by educators to advance the interests of their students.  So much of the rhetoric surrounding education is negative and demoralizing.  Our teachers are breaking their backs and their hearts for kids every day in an extremely challenging environment.  Let’s honor how well Idaho’s teachers and students are doing with the education funding that is available.

We congratulate legislators and education stakeholder groups such as the Idaho School Boards Association, the Idaho Association of School Administrators’, and the Idaho Education Association for legislative advances in education pay and policy they accomplished this session.

Northwest Professional Educators
, a nonunion, nonpartisan association of educators applauds all efforts made to empower teachers as professionals.  That includes providing teachers with the opportunity to freely exercise their right to join or refrain from joining a union and to have their voices, whether union or nonunion, respected and acknowledged as contributing diverse and helpful views on a multitude of issues.  Idaho’s right to work law is a start, but there is a long way to go to make sure it is fairly implemented. At present, schools do not provide an educational climate that is always open to fresh ideas and a diversity of teacher voices.   Only when public schools are a free marketplace of ideas where nonunion teachers and their organizations are not shut out as somehow being “anti-education” will teacher professionalism, leadership and effectiveness truly thrive.

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