Idaho’s schools are in crisis and our students, the heart of our next generation, are suffering the consequences. Student performances in statewide tests that are used to demonstrate proficiency levels have failed to improve. Over a four-year period, Idaho’s test scores have continued to suffer.
Yet the underlying cause for these scores lies elsewhere. More than 300,000 students in Idaho are learning from 15,000 teachers who are substantially underpaid. According to the respected and nonpartisan Idaho Education News, Idaho teachers’ salaries rank near the lowest in the nation and come in well under the national average. Starting salaries for Idaho educators fall below those of almost all of our neighboring states.
These low salaries impact teacher retention and create needless turnover. Idaho school districts are in a constant uphill fight as they are constantly recruiting new educators. As the state continues to grow and student populations increase, the demand for new teachers always goes up. Even more importantly, these low salaries place Idaho’s students at a substantial disadvantage. Instead of finding their classrooms filled with educators who are familiar with their counties, school districts, and its students, they find newly hired teachers who lack that basic knowledge.