Failing Idaho Education system addressed at public forum

LEWISTON, ID - The Idaho Education task force held a community forum Tuesday night at LCSC.

Teachers expressed their dissatisfaction with legislators and their overall concern for young children within the below average education system. The United States places 17th in the developed world for education.

"The world is changing and we need to be more educated if were going to compete in a global economy," said State Education Task Force Chairman Richard Westerberg.

While worldly statistics gained some attention at the meeting, the real issue for most Idahoans is how their education system ranks within the United States, third from the bottom.

"We're failing our kids," said Lewiston teacher Alex Church. "Kids in Idaho are getting a less quality education than those from Washington and Oregon."

Governor Butch Otter proposed the 31-member task force back in December, in hopes that after listening to educators around the state they will be able to provide recommendations for improvement in the fall before the 2014 legislative session begins.

"I think he was very concerned and wanted it to be a public process, for it to be very deliberative," said Westerberg.

Many took up the governor on this rare opportunity to address the audience, which was made up of task force members and local politicians.

"23 kids that's unheard of, we didn't hire her to be a baby-sitter, we hired her to teach, so give her a chance to teach," said retired Idaho teacher Ken Krahn.

Three issues for educators continued to resurface during the hour and a half forum. McGee Elementary teacher Alex Church spoke candidly about teacher retention, or lack there of.

"I'm gonna be applying for principle jobs this year and the difference between Lewiston and Clarkston is about $13,000," said Church.

Base salary for Idaho teachers, class sizes and pay for performance, were the hot button items of the night.

"Half of us got one amount of money and half got the other and if you think that's a way to encourage collegiality and collaboration, it led to hurt feelings," said Church.

Current teachers as well as some that have retired spoke Tuesday night.

"Taught for 18 years, coached for 18 year, and administration for 17years," said Krahn.

Despite what many called the failing Idaho Education System the teachers that spoke also expressed their love for teaching and their unwillingness to leave the students and state behind.

Those who were unable to attend the forum Tuesday night can still provide feedback and comments to the Idaho State Board of Education at