Vote ‘Yes’ for Idaho’s Students and Quality Education Act

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OPINION AND COMMENT

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned in more than 40 years of service in Idaho public education, including 16 years as state superintendent of public instruction, it’s that in Throughout our state, there are dedicated and passionate educators who work hard to give our children a quality education. they deserve.

But unfortunately, I have also seen them struggle for years to do their job without the necessary resources. from idaho spending per student ranks last out of 50 states and is significantly below the national average.

As a lifelong Republican, I remember a time when leaders of both parties made funding for K-12 education a priority. But in recent years, our leaders have failed to rise to the challenge.

The underfunding of our schools has led to increased class sizes and severe cuts to programs ranging from arts and music to vocational technical training. idaho too lags far behind in teacher salary, leading to a statewide teacher shortage crisis. Every year, talented teachers leave Idaho (or teach altogether) in search of more decent salaries and better-funded programs.

Fortunately, a new initiative will appear on the ballot in the November election that would address these issues. The Quality Education Act would bring in more than $300 million a year to invest in Idaho public education. By restoring the corporate tax rate to its historical rate of 8% and slightly increasing the personal income tax rate above $250,000 (or $500,000 for married couples), the initiative would provide an injection of funds in areas where it is desperately needed. , such as technical and vocational education programs, up-to-date textbooks and other teaching materials, and competitive compensation for teachers and support staff.

The point bears repeating: under this initiative, no one earning less than $250,000 a year would pay one cent in new taxes. And only C corporations, many of which are based outside of Idaho, would be affected by the corporate tax increase.

For much of my time working in Idaho education, our economy was barely able to meet the needs of our school system. But today, with Idaho’s booming economy generating large budget surpluses, there’s simply no reason for Idaho’s education spending to fall so far short of our needs. How long can we expect our economy to continue to prosper without investing in the education and training of future generations?

Recent funding increases proposed by Governor Brad Little and passed by the Idaho Legislature are a step in the right direction, but the truth is, they won’t be enough to make up for decades of chronic underfunding of our schools. . What we need is not just sporadic increases in spending, but adequate and consistent support that schools can count on to provide students with the quality education they need and deserve. By creating a permanent fund dedicated to K-12 education, that is exactly what this ballot initiative will provide.

I think of our public schools as something like a rocket stuck on the launch pad. The rocket is well-designed, well-engineered and well-built, but it only has about half the fuel it needs to launch into the desired orbit. The fuel our schools need is money.

Idaho already has all the other parts necessary for the prosperity of education in our state: dedicated teachers, loving parents, and bright, curious students who only need the state to finally step in and provide them with the tools and resources they need to succeed.

Every child in Idaho deserves a free, quality education. No parent should have to worry about their child being disadvantaged because they went to school in Idaho. I have spent enough time working in Idaho education to know what parents want for their children: a safe school with caring and competent teachers where students can learn the knowledge and skills necessary to propel them to reach their potential. They want them to succeed in any future endeavor they choose and to become responsible and productive citizens of our state and our nation. As a citizen, I want the same thing.

Passing this ballot initiative would be a truly meaningful investment in the education of our children and in the future of our state as a whole. I hope you will join me in November in voting “yes” to the Education Quality Act.

Jerry L. Evans served as Idaho State Superintendent of Public Instruction from 1979 to 1995.

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