Idaho School Reform Group Starts Work Next Week

Jan 3, 2013

Pictured: Participants in a debate held last October over Props 1, 2 and 3, the ballot measures that overturned the Students Come First laws. Some of these people will serve on the Education Improvement Task Force including Anne Ritter at right.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho governor Butch Otter last week said the State Board of Education would “shepherd” a statewide discussion about improving schools. That’s something the governor and many others have talked about since voters repealed an education overhaul last November. What’s being called the Education Improvement Task Force is scheduled to start work next week, but its member list is not complete.

It will have about 30 members. Ten stakeholder groups made nominations. One name we do know is Richard Westerberg. A member of the State Board of Education, Westerberg will chair the task force.

Another member of the group is Penni Cyr, the president of the Idaho Education Association. The IEA has also nominated three working teachers. The teachers’ union led the charge to repeal the education laws known as Students Come First.

On the task force they’ll have to work with former, sometimes bitter, opponents in that effort such as the Idaho School Boards Association. The association’s executive director Karen Echeverria and three members will join the task force.

In a letter announcing the group Governor Butch Otter acknowledged past disagreements, but said he was confident there was agreement on the need to improve Idaho education.

A Board of Education spokesperson says the list of task force members will be complete and posted on its website by the end of the day Friday. Its first meeting is scheduled for one week later.