Voices from the Idaho EdNews Community

Let’s invest in our children’s future

Reclaim Idaho 1

I am a music teacher in Idaho’s public schools and have a passion for my job. I love my school, my students and my community. I get up every day determined to enrich the lives of my students through music. I believe the creativity musical education generates will help our learners think, analyze and problem-solve. There are, however, always improvements to be made in any profession, which is why I am writing this article.

As an Idaho public school teacher, I prepare my students to be some of the most successful people in our state. I want them to go wherever their passions lead them. Although I love my job, I am concerned the current educational pay scale is disheartening and discouraging for our new, impassioned young teachers. They have worked hard to earn their bachelor’s degree and/or master’s degree in education, certifying in their area of expertise. I want them to start out being proud and motivated that they chose the teaching profession! For me, it has taken about eight years before I was able to give up extra side jobs live on just a teacher’s income. Many of my colleagues had similar experiences. Sticking to teaching was challenging, but worth it . . . we love what we do! Keeping our great teachers will impact our learners, so starting with quality pay will attract bright, energetic, new teachers.

The demands of teaching have increased significantly over the past 20 years. Teachers frequently work 12-hour days or more, including evenings and weekends, which takes them away from their families. The daily schedule for a teacher can be relentless. I wish we could just show up to school, teach attentive students, and then go home at the end of the day.

However, along with planning content and lessons, teachers are responsible for monitoring, adjusting, and correcting student behavior; keeping track of student movements (leaving for bathroom, check-out, school activities). The teacher is also scanning constantly and monitoring the level of understanding and learning in order to adjust the lesson accordingly. We must also balance emotionally stable students and their learning pace with students who are emotionally unstable; trying to find ways to nurture, inspire, and heal so that learning can take place for all in a safe environment. These activities take place every minute of the school day except for the 40-70 minutes of preparatory planning.

If Idaho wants successful students, it must have experienced, talented, and passionate teachers who can support themselves in their communities.

I’ve known several educators who have left the state or the profession altogether for better pay and better opportunities elsewhere. These educators were highly skilled, talented, hard-working, and wanted to find a situation where their pay and job was held with dignity. I’m well aware of the thousands of jobs that go unfilled in this state every year because our students don’t have the skills or education they need to fill them. The result is catastrophic. Hundreds of millions of dollars in wages are lost. That is not what any Idahoan wants. The problem is, without adequate funding, Idaho public school teachers can only do so much. If legislators give Idaho schools the resources needed to produce an educated workforce, we could do it. We care about the future of our kids and communities as much as anyone else. It is one of the finest investments we can make. We can invest in our future.

I love training my students to win at life and I really hope they do that in our wonderful state of Idaho.

The only difference between Idaho learners and learners in other states could be their education. They are the same kids growing up in the same country, but they won’t get the same opportunities and education unless we invest in them.

I am writing because Reclaim Idaho’s Invest in Idaho ballot initiative puts our kids on the right path toward success. The initiative would bring much-needed investments into our public-school system which would keep Idaho teachers in Idaho, give our kids the skills they need to succeed, and strengthen our communities all over the state.

Those are values we can all get behind.

I grew up in Idaho and make my home in this great state. I want my students to do the same. I don’t want to see them move to other states for better jobs and opportunities. The same goes for my colleagues. I look forward to seeing the state make strong investments in education so we can all succeed in Idaho.


Colin Brien

Colin Brien

Colin Brien is a public school music teacher in Eastern Idaho.

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