Governor’s office: Significant difference exist between the last task force and this one


The newest task force formed at the request of the governor to review education in Idaho looks hauntingly similar to the last, especially among the invited guests. But the governor’s office says there are significant differences between the groups, most obvious the context of the education conversation in today’s landscape.

In August of 2007, the governor asked the business community to work with educational stakeholders to find ways to improve education. The Education Alliance of Idaho was formed and after nearly three years of work, its recommendations where unveiled by the governor in late 2009.  Those recommendations included tying teacher compensation to performance, increasing the use of technology and increasing the level of public confidence in the education system through accountability. Sound familiar? They should, because those recommendations helped shape the Students  Come First laws. We all know what happened to those.

Fast forward to today.  The governor has asked the State Board of Education to do the same thing  — work with educational stakeholders to find ways to improve education.

Here is a list of those groups that formed the Education Alliance of Idaho from 2007-09:

  • Idaho Education Association
  • Idaho Association of School Administrators
  • Idaho School Board Association
  • Idaho Parent Teacher Association
  • Idaho Digital Learning Academy
  • State Board of Education
  • State Department of Education
  • State Division of Professional-Technical
  • Idaho Business Coalition for Educational Excellence (now called IBE)

Here is a list of some of the groups that form today’s task force:

  • Idaho Education Association
  • Idaho Association of School Administrators
  • Idaho School Board Association
  • Idaho Parent Teacher Association
  • Idaho Digital Learning Academy
  • State Board of Education
  • State Department of Education
  • Idaho Business for Education (formerly known as IBCEE)

So what’s the difference?

The governor’s press secretary, Jon  Hanian, says there are significant differences.  Here is how he describes the differences:

  1. We asked the big three associations (school boards, teachers, and administrators) to pick educators from their respective members, schools and districts around the state to participate.  Further, we are asking they be held accountable for being vocal and collaborating.
  2.  Half of this group consists of working educators, not lobbyists, retired educators, or elected officials.
  3. The Idaho business community (Idaho Business for Education, IACI) has laser focused on becoming more sophisticated about education and it will join with higher education (U of I provost Doug Baker) and our State Board members (the overall policy setting body in education) to ensure this conversation takes place mindful of the regional, national, and global realities facing our students, parents and teachers.  As the process unfolds, the Board will have the ability to draw other people into the conversation in a meaningful, efficient way.
  4. The context is different.  Idaho enacted the most comprehensive education reforms in America. Then more than $4 million was spent on a public referenda effort to remove them.  The landscape is simply different for all parties.  Policy makers, educators, and the public are approaching this in an unprecedented way.  Governor Otter has created a process to incorporate all manner of input, utilize data, and produce viable solutions to improve education.  Context may be different, but you know what is the same?  Idaho kids require too much remediation at the college level, college participation is still too low, and employers still cite a need for a better product coming into the workforce.
  5. The Governor and many others remain convinced that Idaho schools can perform at a higher level and that Idaho educators are deserving of more support.  But that does not mean the Governor is going to insist that he knows what the solutions look like.  He has asked the participants to accept this responsibility as well.  This is not a prescriptive process.  It is one that will draw on the diversity of thought around Idaho education to produce a viable product.  That product may be a demonstration of best practices that can be implemented by districts as they choose, it may be legislative.  That will be for this group to help determine as we move forward.

Today’s group of 31 also includes key lawmakers, who are holding their own committee meetings dedicated to improving education. Here is the complete roster of those meeting Friday. (This group is scheduled to meet again Jan. 25 and Feb. 28):

Richard Westerberg, Chair    State Board of Education
Doug Baker                      University of Idaho
Laurie Boeckel                 Idaho Parent Teacher Association
Roger Brown                    Governor’s Office
Cheryl Charlton                Idaho Digital Learning Academy
Linda Clark                       IASA, Joint School Dist. No. 2 (Meridian)
Penni Cyr                           Idaho Education Association (IEA)
Reed DeMordaunt (R)    Idaho House of Representatives
Karen Echeverria             Idaho School Boards Association (ISBA)
Ken Edmunds                  State Board of Education
Wayne Freedman           ISBA Past President
John Goedde (R)            Idaho State Senate
Steve Higgins                  IASA, Grangeville School Dist.
Mary Huff                      ISBA, Melba School Board Member
Teresa Jackman           IEA, Pocatello
Alex LaBeau                  Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry
Mike Lanza                  IEA, ID Parents & Teachers IPATT
Rod Lewis                     State Board of Education
Bob Lokken                  Idaho Business for Education
Tom Luna                    Superintendent of Public Instruction
Alan Millar                   Idaho Charter School Network
Phyllis Nichols             Counselor, New Plymouth School Dist.
Katie Pemberton         Coeur d’Alene School Dist.
Roger Quarles              Idaho Leads Project
Mary Ann Ranells        IASA, Lakeland School Dist.
Anne Ritter                    ISBA President, Meridian School Board Member
Brian Smith                   IEA, Sandpoint
Geoffrey Thomas          IASA, Madison School Dist.
Janie Ward-Engelking (D)    Idaho House of Representatives
Cindy Wilson                 IEA, Meridian
Rob Winslow                 Idaho Association of School Administrators (IASA)

  • Clete Edmunson

    Once again, where are the students? If we are making decisions to improve THEIR education, why aren’t THEY involved? Why don’t we ask what they want? I have worked on a daily basis with high school seniors for the last 18 years and have had numerous discussions with them on education reform. All of these education experts would be suprised to hear the intelligent recommendations these students could provide and would benefit from their involvement. If we want to put students first then they should be at the table. I’m very disappointed that once again they weren’t invited.

    • http://www.teachidaho.org Kali Kurdy

      Clete, I totally agree with you. When asked, students are honest about what they need and how they want to learn. We need to begin listening to them. Students are the voice that give credibility to how our programs will work in the classroom.

  • Kevin S. Wilson

    According to the Governor’s press secretary, ” Idaho kids require too much remediation at the college level, college participation is still too low, and employers still cite a need for a better product coming into the workforce.”

    I would remind both the Governor and the Idaho employers who have his ear that factories create products, while schools strive to help human beings achieve their full potential as educated citizens. That kids are referred to as “products” speaks volumes about the motives of the education-reform movement and about its proponents’ regard for both students and teachers. It also clearly reveals a willful distortion and perversion of the purpose of education, one that is unacceptable in a democracy.

  • Briana LeClaire

    Good question, Jennifer. Reed DeMordaunt and Alan Millar get to carry all the school choice water, versus 20+ committee members representing the status quo. The committee could use more “diversity of thought around Idaho education.”

    • http://www.berch4idaho.com Steve Berch

      With DeMordaunt and Millar on the task force, that’s 2 out of 31 task force members, or 6% of the task force. I believe that 6% is probably about, or greater than, the percentage of students attending alternate-choice schooling (charter, home school, etc. – please correct me if the actual percentage is much higher or lower). The representation for their perspective on public education appears to be proportional and balanced relative to the rest of the task force.

  • Michael Reineck

    Another ideological house of stacked cards. Where are the reps from the Boise School District? Why is the IACI now “laser focused”? Was it spectrum viewing in the past while advocating money making privatizing measures along with diverting funding to Charter schools.

  • Kevin S. Wilson

    Mike Lanza is not a member of the IEA, as is indicated in the list above. He is not a teacher.

    He has a seat at the table ONLY because the IEA was willing to give up one of its seats. That was the bargain that was struck to enable Mike Lanza to even be present.