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State educators seek to help guide K-12 policy

December 6, 2012
Leaders in education assembled Thursday, November 29, to begin finding solutions for immediate and long-term issues facing the future of K-12 education in Idaho.

The ideas generated by this group were given to Governor Butch Otter's office and offered to legislative leaders. The group will request a public hearing with the House Education Committee, the Senate Education Committee and possibly the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee to share its ideas and offer its continued help.

The group’s 22 participants included superintendents, teachers, parents and leaders from the Idaho Education Association, the Idaho Business for Education, the Idaho School Board’s Association, State Board of Education and the State Department of Education.

They met at Boise State University in a meeting facilitated by Idaho Leads Project co-directors Lisa Kinnaman and Roger Quarles. The five-hour meeting included activities to build relationships and develop shared ideas for solving Idaho’s K-12 education challenges.

The meeting was arranged by Dr. Heather Williams, superintendent of the Gooding Joint School District and legislative chair for the Idaho Association of School Administrators. Williams emphasized that this is a practitioner’s group and not a political group. She invited retiring and long-time legislator from her district Wendy Jaquet to offer ideas on how the group could maximize relationships with lawmakers.

“My goal was to get practitioners and caring stakeholders together to better understand the issues from various perspectives, and to build leadership capacity to help us move forward by building relationships, committing to continuous improvement, and building on effective practices,” she said.

The group agreed that it is important to bring multiple solutions, instead of problems, to the Legislature and Gov. Butch Otter and to support the governor as he appoints an education task force.

Some of the ideas developed by the group were to focus on recruiting and retaining the very best teachers in Idaho, build on reform efforts that are already working, build a statewide communication matrix, make decisions as close as possible to students, set clear goals for all stakeholders, integrate technology and evolve the instructional model.

Members of the group also said that now is the time to leverage the intense public interest in education by publicizing the good things happening in a variety of topics from technology integration, use of effective practices and leadership capacity.

“Let’s focus on what’s going right while we have their attention,” said New Plymouth Superintendent Ryan Kerby.

To find out more, contact Dr. Williams at (208) 934-4321.
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