NOTEBOOK: A closer look at a widespread Idaho teacher shortage

Posted at 1:04 PM, Oct 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-27 15:04:46-04

Idaho’s teacher shortage. In many respects, Idaho’s teacher shortage is well-documented. Rural districts continue to struggle to find and keep staff — and as one rural superintendent puts it, hard-to-find special education, math and science teachers are akin to “unicorns.” But the shortages appear more widespread, and they’re unlikely to go away any time soon.

An unorthodox digital deal. Malad’s Oneida School District stands to receive more than $2 million from the state, and at least $100,000 from an education vendor. The reason: The rural district has agreed to absorb more than 400 home-school students from across Idaho — students served by Harmony, a Utah-based online curriculum vendor. Two large school districts have walked away from their dealings with Harmony, and a prominent legislator has concerns about districts boosting their enrollment by absorbing online learners.

A war on bullying? The State Department of Education released results from its latest Youth Risk Behavior Survey Tuesday, and some results were troubling. Twenty-six percent of high school students said they were bullied on school grounds, 22 percent of students said they had seriously considered suicide and 20 percent of students said they were bullied via text or social media. Based on the results from the voluntary survey, state superintendent Sherri Ybarra said it’s time to “declare a ‘war on bullying in Idaho.’”

Jeff Dillon. Ybarra’s Republican challenger says he is running for state superintendent because he wants public schools to be Idaho’s schools of choice.  “When a majority of our parents in our state — if money were not an issue — would send their child to a private school or a charter schools (that) tells me that we’re not doing the job we need to do in education,” Dillon said in an interview with Idaho Education News. The Wilder school superintendent offered few details, but pledged to go statewide to develop an Idaho-based plan.

Next-generation journalists. Nearly 450 high school students gathered in Boise for a conference to stoke their interest in a career in journalism. Among the recurring topics: the changing face of the media industry, and the ubiquitous term “fake news.” Mountain View High School junior Madeline Layman said she was unfazed by the fake news buzz: “All of this change is a challenge for me and I want to overcome the barrier around journalism.”


Kevin Richert is a reporter and blogger with Idaho Education News ( Idaho Education News is an independent news site focused on education policy and politics, funded by the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation. Richert has worked in the Idaho news media since 1985, as a reporter, editor and columnist.