Teacher retention, mental health and all-day kindergarten are top issues concerning education in Idaho, according to Gov. Brad Little’s K-12 task force on education.
The statewide task force — "Our Kids, Idaho's Future" — released its list of recommendations to the public earlier this week. The recommendations are a step in the right direction for creating schools Idaho students deserve, said Idaho Education Association President Kari Overall. IEA is the state’s teachers union.
"It is imperative that we invest in our students and prioritize trust and respect in our professional educators," she said in a news release. "These task force recommendations can bring us closer to that objective and will benefit Idaho students and communities."
The task force overwhelmingly agreed on the need to address a teacher retention crisis. The task force recommended expanding and building out the Idaho teacher career ladder to recognize the value of veteran teachers.
"We have made significant progress in teacher recruitment through increases for early career educators," Overall said. "This is the ideal time to take care of our most experienced and valuable educators."
Overall said the task force heard from virtually every constituency about the need for more resources and training related to student emotional and mental health. Providing all-day kindergarten as a foundation for academic success was also a top priority.
"The recommendations in these areas reflect the consensus of the task force and can make a huge difference in the achievement and growth of Idaho students," she said.
Gov. Little launched the 26-member task force launched in May. It’s chaired by State Board of Education President Debbie Critchfield and Boise business leader Bill Gilbert. The group is made up of teachers, education advocates, legislators, business leaders and parents. It meets once a month and is broken into subcommittees: K-12 Budget Stability; Educator Pipeline; Rural and Underserved Schools; and School Facilities and School Safety.