Teacher 'Career Ladder' Bill Will Surface March 10

by

ADAM ROSENLUND
  • Adam Rosenlund
Members of the House Education Committee will hear House Bill 222 on Tuesday, March 10. The hearing, scheduled for 8 a.m., is set to take place in room 42 of the Capitol's East Wing—a larger room than usual, in order to accommodate more members of the public. And there’s a good chance they’ll turn out on this one.

HB 222 outlines a new teacher pay system unofficially known as a “career ladder” salary package. The Idaho Education Association teachers’ union does not like it.

“[It] fails to recognize the value of experienced teachers, takes far too long to fully activate and will not come close to keeping pace with compensation levels in surrounding states,” the IEA stated of HB 222.

The plan is incremental, taking until 2019 to fully implement. At that point, “residency” teachers would make $37,000-$39,000 annually and teachers with three or more years of experience would make $42,000-$50,000. The plan would cost about $30 million.

While the teachers’ union is dead set against it, Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter is not. In a March 6 news release, he detailed the reasons why he is so proud of HB 222.

“The current salary grid for teachers cannot support the education system this state needs, and I will not add more taxpayer dollars to a structure that doesn’t move Idaho forward,” Otter wrote.

The governor noted that the “career ladder” style of compensation will not pay teachers on years of experience alone, but on advanced degrees, willingness to take hard-to-fill positions, teaching proficiency and student outcomes. He said the proposal is based on the bipartisan Task Force for Improving Education that he established in 2013.

“House Bill 222 represents two years of research, discussion and work by education stakeholders across the state, as well as a great deal of feedback and input from teachers, parents and the public,” Otter wrote.

The Idaho Education Association, on the other hand, has put together a list of pros and cons for HB 222, with the cons far lengthier than the pros.

For example, “HB 222 puts accountability on teachers for conditions over which they have little or no control. Tying an individual teacher’s pay to their ability to ensure a majority of their students show proficiency/growth with no control over the conditions outside the classroom is unfair.”

It also points out that legislation doesn’t hold administrators to “fair and appropriate” evaluations and claims that the salary plan still leaves Idaho teacher salaries far behind neighboring states.

Regardless, Otter is pushing for the public to support HB 222 at Tuesday’s hearing.

“The status quo, or worse a one-time increase for teachers, will not create the opportunities for our children that we all desire,” he wrote. “We have studied the issue closely. We have vetted this issue thoroughly. We have built consensus on this issue carefully. Now please join me in encouraging the Legislature to take the next step towards the kind of world-class education system our children, grandchildren and generations to come deserve.”