A House Education Committee with a first-time chairman, a first-time vice chairman and 10 of 16 new members will be tasked with deciding what comes next for education reform in Idaho.
Chairman Rep. Reed DeMordaunt, serving in only his third session, will lead a class of mostly newbies in untangling the fallout from the repeal of the Students Come First laws. Idaho voters soundly rejected education reform laws that were supported by Gov. Butch Otter, Superintendent Tom Luna and the 2012 Legislature. Those laws were implemented and funded. But now the repeal leaves millions in limbo, projects unfunded and the heart of teacher contracts and evaluations unclear.
When the 2013 Idaho Legislature convenes on Jan. 7, these 16 representatives will be under the watchful eye of education stakeholders. The options are limitless, but so are the ideas that will be presented.
The House Education Committee will meet every morning in Room EW41. Secretary Lynn Walker can be reached at 332-1148.
Here is a look at the backgrounds of the committee members who will drive the education reform discussion:
Chairman Rep. Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle
Rep. DeMordaunt was re-elected to his second term in 2012 and was appointed chair of the House Education Committee in December after serving as a member of the committee through his first term. He replaces former chairman Rep. Bob Nonini who was elected to the Idaho State Senate in 2012. Prior to DeMordaunt’s election in 2010, he served as chairman of both the State Board of Education Committee on Teacher Performance Compensation and Albertson Foundation Teacher Compensation Committee.
DeMordaunt holds a master’s degree in international business and currently works as the CEO of Med Management Technology, a software company specializing in medical services. His professional background includes mostly technology and business, though in 2003, DeMordaunt waded into education when he founded the North Star Charter School in Eagle. According to the school’s website, its mission is to provide parents a choice in public education and its teachers are focused on implementing technology in the classrooms.
Vice Chairman Rep. Pete Nielsen, R-Mountain Home
Rep. Nielsen first joined the Idaho House of Representatives in 2002 and was recently appointed to vice chair to replace outgoing Rep. Mack Shirley. Rep. Nielsen is a farmer and insurance agent and he bucked the party leadership and endorsed Ron Paul in the 2012 presidential election. He is a vocal supporter of education laws that allow high school students to enroll in dual credits. Nielsen has been a member of the House Education Committee for the past two sessions.
Rep. Paul Shepherd, R-Riggins
First joining the Idaho State House of Representatives in 2004, Rep. Shepherd has served on the House Education Committee through every legislative session since his election. He is a partner and manager of Shepherd Sawmill and Log Homes in Riggins, Idaho.
Rep. Shepherd previously served on the Garden Valley School Board. He is passionate on issues related to education, he has nine children and many of them work in education field. He also is passionate on issues relating to natural resources.
Rep. Richard Wills, R-Glenns Ferry
Rep. Wills, a retired Idaho state trooper, was first elected to the Idaho House of Representatives in 2002 and has served on the House Education Committee for the past two sessions. He currently owns Opera Theater Consulting Business.
Rep. Linden B. Bateman, R-Idaho Falls
Rep. Bateman was first elected in 1977 to the Idaho House of Representatives and served five terms before becoming an educator. He was elected again in 2010 and was recently appointed to serve on the House Education Committee. Bateman is a semi-retired educator and continues to teach part-time at Idaho State University and Brigham Young University-Idaho.
Rep. Judy Boyle, R-Midvale
Rep. Boyle joined the Idaho House of Representatives in 2008 and the 2013 session will mark her second term on the House Education Committee. She is a rancher and freelance writer and was once named one of the 100 most influential people in Idaho. Her background in politics dates back to serving as the natural resources director for then-Rep. Helen Chenoweth. Most of Rep. Boyle’s work relates to wolf management and other natural resources issues and she hasn’t made significant public statements related to education policy.
Rep. Lucinda L. Agidius, R-Moscow
Rep. Agidius is a first-term member of the Idaho House of Representatives and represents District 5A, serving in the seat last occupied by Senator-elect Bob Nonini. Rep. Agidius is an outspoken advocate of local control for schools and addressed the Students Come First laws with a moderate tone in the past, arguing that while she supports the laws, she also supports legislators working with teachers and parents to address the elements in the laws that are receiving the most criticism.
Rep. Lance Clow, R-Twin Falls
Rep. Clow joins the Idaho House of Representatives as a freshman representative for the 2013 legislative session after running unopposed in his Twin Falls district. Prior to his election, he served on the Twin Falls City Council and then served as mayor for six years.
Rep. Terry Gestrin, R-Donnelly
Rep. Gestrin was first appointed by Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter to the Idaho House of Representatives to fill an appointment in August 2012 and was promptly re-elected in the November 2012 elections. Rep. Gestrin is most outspoken on natural resource and 2nd Amendment issues and has not made public statements regarding education policy.
Rep. Steven Harris, R-Meridian
Rep. Harris was elected to his first term in the November 2012 general election. He earned a master’s degree in technology management from Brigham Young University and currently works as a systems consultant and small business owner.
Rep. Wendy Horman, R-Idaho Falls
Adding to the list of first-term representatives, Rep. Horman brings a background in education as a Bonneville School Board Trustee and former president of the Idaho School Boards Association. According to her campaign website, she is a strong supporter of policies that provide a choice for parents, including charter schools and online education.
Rep. Ron Mendive, R-Coeur d’Alene
Rep. Mendive joins the Idaho House of Representatives as a freshman. Like many of his colleagues, he is an advocate of educational choice, including public, charter and home schooling.
Rep. Julie VanOrden, R-Pingree
Rep. VanOrden was elected in the 2012 general election and brings a background in education to the House Education Committee. She is the current Idaho Parents and Teachers Association state president and also serves as chairman of the Snake River School District Board of Trustees.
Rep. Donna Pence, D-Gooding
Rep. Pence serves as one of three Democrats on the House Education Committee and holds a master’s degree in physics education from Idaho State University. She is a retired teacher and has worked with the Idaho Education Association in the past.
Rep. Hy Kloc, D-Boise
Rep. Kloc joins the Idaho House of Representatives as a freshman member for the 2013 session and brings a background in public radio and music.
Rep. Janie Ward-Engelking, D-Boise
Rep. Ward-Engelking was elected in the 2012 general election after serving as a public school teacher in Idaho for the past 33 years. She is currently a trainer and facilitator for the College of Western Idaho.