Governor sets high bar for education reform

broberts@idahostatesman.comJanuary 3, 2014 

Gov. Butch Otter is setting high expectations for what he will say about education in his State of the State address Monday.

He pledged “aggressive fulfillment” of the state’s promise to restore education funding as Idaho’s economy has improved following the Great Recession.

Otter spoke with reporters Friday in advance of the Legislature’s opening day on Monday

He didn’t give specifics on his proposals, but he predicted “the most important issue we face in this Legislature is going to be education.”

Otter said he will lay out a five-year plan for improving education influenced by his Task Force for Improving Education, which met for eight months last year.

The first year’s plan will be detailed, but the other years will be more general, Otter said.

Task force proposals included restoring $82.5 million districts lost in operational money as the state cut funding for schools. The task force also proposed a career ladder for teachers that would combine increased pay with greater accountability on teacher performance, at an estimated cost of $250 million.

Otter also reiterated his support for Common Core, a set of education standards adopted by 45 states for what students should know and be able to do by the time they graduate from high school.

Some lawmakers, including state Sen. Steven Thayn, R-Emmett, have raised questions about the standards and the testing that students will be required to take.

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