Idaho Governor Emphasizes Public Education, But Can He Stop the Right Freight Train?

During his State of the State address on Monday, Idaho Gov. Brad Little used the word “public” 10 times when talking about education, mentioning public schools and public schools. chartered.

His speech sent a clear message that he is stepping up his efforts in public education in the face of what is sure to be a heated debate over the introduction of private school vouchers in Idaho.

Few even said as much.

“We are not backing down on education; we are doubling education,” he said.

His budget proposal, also revealed Monday, includes a 16% increase in funding for K-12 public education. His budget increases permanent funding for public education by $360 million and increase the salary of new teachers to place him in the national top 10.

Finally, a ranking that Idaho can be proud of.

The salaries of teachers in all fields would also be increased. The average Idaho teacher would see a $6,300 pay raise.

Little’s detractors shout that Little is “giving in” to the teachers’ union. No, his budget provides a living wage that will attract the best teachers and keep them in Idaho. This is how the market works. And that benefits school children in Idaho. If you don’t want Idaho to have the best teachers, then you’re not really in favor of school children in Idaho.

Its budget also includes $20 million for school safety and $30 million for technology upgrades.

Listening to a group of college students from Idaho, who wrote a guest opinion column last year which appeared in the Idaho Statesman, Little’s budget creates the $8,500 “Idaho Launch” scholarship starting next year for graduating high school students in Idaho to attend a college in Idaho, community college, technical or vocational training program of their choice.

Little also proposes making permanent the Empowering Parents grant program, which provides direct taxes to families to use for educational purposes.

It’s part of what Little rightly points to as Idaho’s national ranking as the third best school choice.

What Little’s budget does not provide is money for “education savings accounts” or education bonds that would allow taxpayers’ money to be used for college tuition. private schools.

During his speech, Little recognized the constitutional mandate to “establish and maintain a uniform and comprehensive general system of free public schools”.

His budget, if approved by Idaho lawmakers, would go a long way toward fulfilling that mandate.

“As elected leaders, we promise to uphold this contract with the people when we take our oath,” Little said, as if addressing directly those who oppose public education and demand vouchers. “Our commitment to public schools is both our constitutional obligation and our moral obligation. My Idaho First plan respects both the constitutional mandate and the mandate of Idaho voters by investing in our public schools.

No doubt, however, some Republican lawmakers will still press for school checks under the guise of school choice.

These proponents, however, seem less concerned with improving education in Idaho than attacking public schools, calling them “government indoctrination camps.”

Little’s budget and address sent a clear message about his priorities and lack of interest in anything “significantly diminutive” of public education.

If school voucher proposals come out of the Legislative Assembly and reach his office, he should remember his commitment and make it as strong on the last day of the session as on the first.

Statesman editorials are the unsigned opinion of the Idaho Statesman Editorial Board. Board members are opinion writer Scott McIntosh, opinion writer Bryan Clark, editor-in-chief Chadd Cripe, newsroom editors Dana Oland and Jim Keyser, and community members Johanna Jones and Maryanne Jordan.

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