Education Is a Top Priority
Funding for K-12 Education Is the Top Budget Priority
I agree with much of what Governor Brad Little said in his speech given to the City Club of Boise on January 29, 2020, about how K-12 education funding must be the top budget priority in Idaho ahead of everything else. The top priority of the state of Idaho, overall, is to help Idaho’s economy grow. And one of the best ways to grow Idaho's economy is to invest in education.
You can listen to Governor Little’s speech at one of the links below, and it is well worth your time.
I’ll paraphrase/summarize the part of Governor Little’s speech that I agree with:
We want to grow our economy so that our kids can stay in Idaho and have good-paying jobs. Investing in education is the key to growing Idaho’s economy and generating good-paying jobs.
If kids can’t read proficiently by the end of the third grade, a lot of our investment in other educational programs will be for naught. So the number one goal is to help kids read proficiently by the end of the third grade.
The undeniable reason for the amount of supplemental levies in the state of Idaho is the need to remain competitive in education so that our children can get good jobs, and the state of Idaho needs to “step up” its funding of education.
--words in italics paraphrased/summarized from Governor Little's speech
In summary, I agree with Governor Little that K-12 education is the top funding priority of the state of Idaho and that third grade reading proficiency is the most important goal.
Now on to where I don’t agree with Governor Little.
Governor Little was asked at the 35-minute mark, “If you could do one thing to reach your gold standard with regard to third grade reading . . . what would you do?” Governor Little replied that there was no one thing he would do, that he recommends a “smorgasbord” of solutions such as summer reading programs, pre-K funding, more busing to kindergarten, a now-defunct Parents As Teachers program, etc.
In other words, Governor Little’s “one” solution was to JUST THROW MONEY AT THE PROBLEM. That was the wrong answer, and it will always be a doomed solution to just throw money at a problem without knowing what the best way is to solve that problem.
If I could do one thing to help Idaho’s children reach the gold standard regarding Idaho’s third grade reading proficiency standard, it would be to hire the personnel needed to accomplish one-on-one phonics-based reading instruction in kindergarten through second grade.
It is too difficult to consistently obtain high levels of reading proficiency with instruction largely focused to young children in a group setting. Some young children will pick up reading in a group setting, and some of them won’t. That’s where kids fall through the cracks learning to read.
So I would hire extra teachers or teacher aides or reading aides in kindergarten through second grade who could pull the children out of the group classroom setting in order to sit one-on-one with them to help advance them through a structured series of phonics-based reading lessons, such as Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. And parents could also use these reading lessons to teach their kids at home, too, supporting the school’s efforts.
I envision that many classrooms in K-2 could have a part-time reading aide come in for 3-4 hours in the mornings 4-5 days per week and another part-time reading aide could come in for 3-4 hours in the afternoons 4-5 days per week. Some of these reading aides could be properly trained parents of one the students in the class. Children who are advanced readers would not need the one-on-one instruction, so the reading sessions could be focused on those children who need them most and the numbers of reading aides and their hours could be adjusted accordingly.
I used Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons to teach 3 of my children how to read at the end of first grade reading level before they entered kindergarten. My son was reading at the end of first grade reading level when he was three years old. He was willing to do the lessons with me if he could sit on my shoulders, so that’s how a lot of the lessons happened. I won’t say that the 100 reading lessons in this book were easy, but they were extremely effective. And there are thousands of positive reviews online from other parents, too, regarding this approach.
When there is a large, complicated organization such as the public school system, it is CRITICAL to narrow the focus down to the 1-3 most powerful solutions that can get the best results and then put as much time and energy and funding behind those 1-3 most powerful solutions. A one-on-one phonics-based reading program is definitely one of the best ways to obtain proficient reading levels by second grade without even needing the extra year in third grade to accomplish at-grade reading proficiency.
The crucial need to narrow the focus to only 1-3 initiatives in any organization is why I disagree in general with large portions of Common Core.
Trying to focus on too many things will inevitably doom all of them to failure, which is a big trap that Common Core falls into. Creating more and more standards will not automatically help students learn more.
When we ask our teachers to try to do too much, it is counterproductive. Teachers need time to be able to take their classes down spontaneous learning paths that would otherwise get crowded out by an obsessive need to cram in another Common Core requirement into the day's teaching.
Also, Common Core, now renamed the College- and Career-Ready standards (CCR), has not been proven to be more effective (see bottom link below).
I will be asking educators in Bingham County what they think of Common Core. If they overwhelmingly support it, I am open to changing my mind on this issue. The experiences of Bingham County professionals in the trenches doing the work are very valuable in helping me form my policy positions, whether the professionals are teachers, police officers, emergency room doctors, first responders, farmers, etc.
While in Boise, Representative Young has consistently sought more top-down state control of Idaho local school boards and local governments.
Julianne Young voted for House Bill 393 that would remove the election slots in March and August that are currently available for local school boards to request levies. The Idaho School Boards Association opposes HB 393 because those election dates are strategically located to help fix budget shortfalls after they have been identified but before budgets need to be finalized for the upcoming school year.
Young voted for HB 347, which would prevent school boards from requesting a levy for a similar subject more than once in 11 months. In other words, if a levy fails and the school board adjusts the levy based on voter feedback and wants to come back with a better proposal several months later, too bad! Under HB 347, that money would be lost for an entire year, and so would the educational opportunities for Idaho’s children.
As her votes on HB 393 and HB 347 show, Young does not care about adequately funding Bingham County schools, but I am confident that the large majority of Bingham County voters do care greatly about their neighborhood schools, and voters should forcefully oppose Young’s attempts to tie our school boards’ hands.
For example, both of the levies on the ballot in Bingham County passed on March 10, 2020, with over 60% approval, but if HB 393 were already law then those levies would not even have been allowed to be on the ballot then. I ask all of you who voted for those levies to vote for me in November so that Julianne Young cannot find a way to undo your votes with more Boise legislation.
Julianne Young recently voted for HB 409, which would freeze non-school local government spending for one year. So at the same time when the state of Idaho is adding $2 million to combat the novel coronavirus and the federal government authorized $8 billion to do the same, Julianne Young voted to tie our local governments up in red tape and prevent them from being able to fully respond to this looming emergency. Luckily, the Idaho Senate killed HB 409. Good riddance!
When HB 409 came before the Idaho House, our local Bingham County officials tried to persuade Young to oppose it. According to an article in the Bingham County Chronicle, Blackfoot Mayor Marc Carroll told Young, “I’m concerned in the services that we’ll be able to provide.” Bingham County Commissioner Mark Bair complained that a freeze is actually a cut because local governments won’t be able to keep up with expenses. Bair also told Young, “You’re tying our hands.”
Instead of listening to Blackfoot’s mayor and her county commissioner and working with them, Young talked down to them and continued her efforts to micromanage Bingham County local governments from her perch in Boise.
Please vote for Travis Oler and against Julianne Young in the November election for Bingham County’s Idaho State Representative for Seat 31B.
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