It would be nice if the GOP could come up with fresh ideas. Instead, they rely on old decisions made by their “leadership” and call it good. Is it really “good” to phone in your job? Idahoans deserve better than that.
Rep. Paulette Jordan (D-Plummer) responds to Rep. Malek and Rep. Amador’s statements in the Coeur d’Alene Press on Sunday, January 22nd, regarding the Rural Teacher Loan Forgiveness Bill.
“I’m disappointed by Rep. Malek and Rep. Amador’s statement about our rural teacher recruitment bill. Rural school districts in Idaho are struggling to solve their teacher shortage dilemma and, when fully implemented, the career ladder will not address severe shortages and recruiting challenges faced by nearly every rural district. It is clear that Rep. Malek and Rep. Amador either don’t understand rural communities or don’t care to support anything but their urban community. I challenge them to find another solution so we can continue to shine a light on one of the most critical aspects of our economy.”
DEMOCRATS UPSET OVER RURAL TEACHER SNUB
By BETHANY BLITZ Staff Writer
Idaho Democrats are disappointed in the way Coeur d’Alene Reps. Paul Amador, R-Coeur d’Alene and Luke Malek, R-Coeur d’Alene, dismissed their Rural Teacher Loan Forgiveness Bill at a town hall meeting over the weekend.
Both Amador and Malek responded to a community member’s concern that the teacher shortage is a pressing issue in rural areas, but were unsure if debt forgiveness would be the answer.
“There are opportunities out there that already exist for teachers to have student debt forgiven,” Amador said. “I don’t know that it’s a bad idea, but I don’t think it’s necessarily a solution to our teacher shortage.”
“It was disappointing to hear that they weren’t in support for such a bill for rural teacher recruitment,” said Rep. Paulette Jordan, D-Plummer, who has been spearheading the legislation. “I would love to see them turn around and support this legislation because it really needs to be addressed.”
The Rural Teacher Loan Forgiveness Bill would offer teachers an incentive to work in eligible rural schools affected by a shortage of quality teachers. Teachers at these schools would be eligible for as much as $3,000 in student loan forgiveness each year for as long as four years.
Rural school districts, Jordan said, are located outside cities.
Rep. Jordan told The Press rural school districts see a lot of teacher turnover from young teachers who use their schools as stepping stones before moving to higher-paying jobs. This bill would help rural areas retain their teachers.
“This won’t solve all our problems in our rural communities, but this is applicable and can be utilized immediately,” Jordan said.
According to a press release by the Idaho State House of Representatives Democratic Leadership, Idaho ranks 49th of 50 for rural student spending, Idaho’s rural student graduation rate is 80 percent compared to the statewide graduation rate of 84 percent and only about half of Idaho rural students go on to college, compared to the statewide college enrollment of 59 percent.
“Students don’t have the same opportunities as those in urban settings,” Jordan said. “It’s important to support our teachers and build on standards that allow us to retain our teachers… We need a system that allows them to teach to the best of their ability.”
The bill is in its beginning stages — Democrats are seeking a meeting with the chair of the Education Committee to see if the committee will consider it.
So far, Jordan said there has been a lot of community support for the bill, but now she needs support from other legislators. She urges community members to voice their opinion on the issue by calling their local legislators.
“This is one bill to address one of many issues, but to say the career ladder is it; there are so many issues with the career ladder that don’t address the severe shortages we are seeing in the rural communities,” Jordan said. “This is one bill we are seeking that I think will help; it is a positive solution moving in the right direction.”