9B.News 2022 Primary Voter's Guide
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She also serves as an ex-officio voting member and executive secretary of the Idaho State Board of Education, as Chairman of the Board of Idaho Educational Services for the Deaf and the Blind and as a member of the State Board of Land Commissioners.
She lives in Mountain Home with her husband, a federal police officer. Their son graduated from Idaho public schools and is attending the University of Idaho.
During my administration, student achievement has gone from 31st in the nation to 17th in the nation. Idaho students continue to outperform students in neighboring states and across the nation on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Idaho is 5th in the nation for students being college and career ready and we rank first in the nation for the number of college credits earned by high school students.
School choice has increased more than 40 percent since I took office and I have successfully implemented the recommendations of two Governor’s task forces on K-12 education.
I am committed to supporting students to achieve by remaining focused on our shared goals:
1. All Idaho children are reading on-grade-level by third grade: Early literacy is the foundation for the success and achievement of all Idaho students now and in the future.
As a former third-grade teacher, I know how important it is that our kindergarten through third grade students thoroughly learns the five foundational reading skills – alphabetic knowledge, phonemic awareness, vocabulary, comprehension and fluency. They need to learn to read by the end of the third grade so they can read to learn for the rest of their lives.
This fall’s statewide results of Idaho’s early reading test, showed an overall improvement from the previous fall for our first through third grade students, despite the continued interruptions of the COVID pandemic.
But, results at the kindergarten level show that our youngest students reading readiness was lower than for the previous year’s students, putting incoming kindergarteners at a disadvantage. It is absolutely essential to give children a strong educational foundation as they enter school, and that’s why I support optional full-day kindergarten, prioritized for our students who need it most.
This, along with my focus on dyslexia and providing teachers with the training they need to develop interventions for students with this learning challenge, will be game changers for Idaho students.
I will continue to prioritize training for teachers that helps them identify where students have gaps and challenges and how to provide intervention to address those gaps.
2. Parental involvement is actively encouraged and supported: I am committed to helping parents engage in our public schools to support their children. Research shows that active parent involvement is the single best predictor of student success.
We have sought parent involvement for years, and we need it.
I was saddened and disturbed when the spirited debates that occurred at some school board meetings a few months ago resulted in parents being labeled as “domestic terrorists.” I was compelled to write a strongly worded letter to US Attorney General Merrick Garland last October, to push back on this inflammatory narrative.
What I said to AG Garland is that, “Properly understood, interactive, emotional debate is a valuable component of today’s educational process and needs. Parents are their students’ most ardent advocates and best protectors, NOT ‘domestic terrorists’.”
Parents should, absolutely, feel free to advocate for what is in their children’s best interests. After talking to parent groups in our state, I learned that they know their rights. Idaho has numerous laws to ensure parents’ rights are protected in decisions that affect their children. But, they don’t always know how to exercise those rights through constructive engagement.
They told me they need practical tools to engage with their children’s teachers and schools. This is why I am working on a parent “toolkit” with ideas and information on how parents can engage in productive and meaningful ways to improve their children’s educational experience.
3. Idaho attracts and retains great teachers and leaders: In addition to parents, the other single most important determining factor in student success is the teacher in the classroom. It is imperative that Idaho continues to recruit and retain the very best educators.
It is essential to continue to improve teachers’ salaries to attract individuals to the profession and reward and retain experienced teachers.
If we learned one thing about education over the past two years, it is the importance of in-person, one-on-one interaction between students and teachers. That is why I ran successful legislation to prioritize in-person learning.
The significant workforce challenges across the nation in nearly all sectors, is even more urgent given the teacher shortage in our state before the pandemic. And, as our schools operated under the added stress and workload of the pandemic, we saw many of our districts and charters struggle to fill teaching positions and other jobs.
We must ensure that our schools can offer competitive wages and benefits. The teaching profession must be an attractive option to pursue for the best and brightest.
I remain committed to implementing the career ladder for teacher salaries, which provides steady, scheduled increases for our educators. It shows educators how they can progress within the profession and includes accountability for student outcomes.
As usual, it’s all about people, and we must have the human capital to ensure Idaho students have the best opportunities possible.
Mike Weland, Publisher
6931 Main St.
P.O. Box 1625
Bonners Ferry, ID 83805
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