Education news roundup: Monday, Feb. 3

The House Education Committee advanced a bill Monday to create a new award to recognize outstanding teachers.

The bill, pushed by Idaho Falls Republican Rep. Linden Bateman, would allow all 105 lawmakers to hand out a new $500 Idaho Legislative Outstanding Teaching Award.

Legislative Teaching Award
The proposed rendering of Idaho Legislative Teaching Award, which Rep. Linden Bateman designed with a friend based on the 1899 dollar bill.

Under House Bill 379, lawmakers would recognize one teacher from their legislative district for “improving student engagement and learning.”

Bonneville Joint School District Superintendent Chuck Shackett traveled to Boise to testify in support.

“Legislators … have an opportunity to award a certificate of merit to some of the wonderful teachers we have in Idaho,” Shackett said. “It will be something that warms you heart.”

Reps. Steven Harris, R-Meridian, and Ron Mendive, R-Coeur d’Alene, voted against the bill without discussing their reasons. In testimony, Bateman said Idaho Freedom Foundation President Wayne Hoffman circulated a letter to lawmakers opposing the bill. According to Bateman, Hoffman said the award program doesn’t represent the proper role of government and would amount to lawmakers dispersing money to constituents.

Neither Hoffman nor anybody from the Idaho Freedom Foundation showed up to speak about the bill.

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In response to the opposition, Bateman said lawmakers wouldn’t actually pick the award recipients. Instead, legislators would approach their local district or charter school and ask for a top teacher to be recognized by criteria established by the district.

The bill goes to the full House.

Ag education initiative

A bill that would put an additional $604,000 into ag education programs received initial backing Monday afternoon.

The Senate Education Committee introduced the ag initiative bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Jim Patrick, R-Twin Falls, and Rep. Julie VanOrden, R-Pingree.

The money would go into two programs: a $504,000 incentive grant program, which would provide $10,000 grants for top-performing ag instructors; and $100,000 in startup grants to encourage school districts to start or re-establish ag programs. The state would award up to four startup grants annually, at $25,000 per school.

Patrick said he hoped the programs could be funded from the $54.7 million Gov. Butch Otter has set aside for recommendations from his education reform task force.

Pledge of Allegiance

The House State Affairs introduced a resolution honoring the addition of the words “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance.

The nonbinding resolution, marking the 60th anniversary of adding “under God” to the pledge, would come back to the committee for a hearing. Its sponsor is Rep. James Holtzclaw, R-Meridian.

Teachers sought for book study

Educators are invited to join a spring book study on Mindset by Carol Dweck that is co-sponsored by TeachIdaho and Northwest Professional Educators (NWPE).

Dweck is a researcher in the field of motivation. Her ideas explain:

  • Why brains and talent don’t bring success
  • How they can stand in the way of it
  • Why praising kids’ brains and talent doesn’t foster self-esteem and accomplishment, but actually jeopardizes them
  • How teaching a simple idea about the brain raises grades and productivity

Participants are asked to contact Kali Kurdy by Feb. 24 to sign up for the book study or for more details.  Registration is $10.  The College of Idaho is providing credit for the study for $55.

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