Recapping opening week at the 2018 Legislature

Posted at 11:02 AM, Jan 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-12 13:02:54-05

This week’s education headlines:

Otter’s education plan. A new higher education “CEO,” a boost in college scholarship dollars, more money to teach young readers and another round of teacher pay raises. Those were a few of the ideas Gov. Butch Otter laid out in his State of the State address Monday. The governor proposed a 6 percent budget increase for K-12 and a 2.3 percent increase for higher education.

A commencement address of sorts. Otter’s 12th and final State of the State address struck a nostalgic and reflective tone, and one that seemed designed to deliver a challenge to the legislators gathered to listen. “Simply saying ‘no’ is not enough,” Otter said at one point in his 55-minute speech. But Otter’s attempts to impart perspective were met with crickets.

Pre-K backers make another push. Early education advocates hope new polling data will break the pre-K impasse, and provide political cover for legislators. According to their statewide poll, 76 percent of voters and 80 percent of parents of children 5 and younger support state funding for pre-K. Idaho remains one of only a handful of states that does not fund pre-K, and that appears unlikely to change in 2018.

A double dose of numbers. Idaho’s K-12 enrollment cleared an elusive milestone, topping the 300,000 mark this year. That number isn’t just a curiosity, since state leaders want to move to a model that distributes school funding based on enrollment. Meanwhile, a new federal study showed that Idaho’s per-pupil spending remains second lowest in the nation — and is unlikely to move up in the rankings any time soon.

'I'm dedicated because I want this to be my career.’ As the daughter of an immigrant from the Philippines, Ayla Thayer realizes what a privilege it is to live in the United States. A senior at Boise’s Capital High School, Ayla wants to serve in the U.S. military, and since her junior year, she has been working to apply to West Point Military Academy. “She is the type of student and person that keeps teachers in education,” said Lt. Col. Dave Wallinger of Capital’s Army Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program.


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.