Idaho Education Task Force Starts State Tour For Public Input

Apr 8, 2013

Mike Rush, Idaho State Board of Education executive director speaking at the first meeting of the Task Force for Improving Education
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho’s Task Force for Improving Education starts a whirlwind tour of the state this week. Members have been meeting since January to find education reforms with broad support. Governor Butch Otter asked the State Board of Education to put the group together after voters repealed a series of education laws last November. Now the task force wants public feedback.

If you go to the first public meeting Wednesday night at Nampa High school, you’ll see five to ten of the group’s 31 members. You’ll hear a short speech by the chairman. Then, says Marilyn Whitney with Idaho’s State Board of Education, the floor is yours.

“These sessions are to get public feedback and input and so the bulk of these forums will be to hear from the public who attends,” she says.

After Nampa, the task force goes to Twin Falls Thursday night. Then the venues shift to north Idaho then the eastern part of the state. The public meetings conclude in Boise later this month. In all the task force will have seven public sessions in 16 days. In May, Whitney says, the group gets back together to analyze what they've heard.

“We’ll do our best to categorize the comments that come in,” she says. And, you know I anticipate it will take the task force some time to go through all of that.”

The group’s ultimate goal is to make recommendations on how to improve Idaho’s education system. Those may include legislation for lawmakers to consider starting in January 2014

The state board has a set of questions for people to consider before they speak to the task force:

  • What is the basic amount of funding needed to adequately educate a student in Idaho?
  • Given the finite amount of funding, how would you like it spent in your school?
  • How should/could we balance a decentralized model with the Constitutional requirement for a uniform, thorough, common system of education?
  • Is funding based on attendance an appropriate model?
  • What should be the measure(s) to hold schools and districts accountable?
  • What should we be measuring with respect to student achievement?
  • What should be done about schools/districts that continually underperform?
  • What professional technical education skills would you like to see taught in high school?

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