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Idaho Teachers Push Back Against Plan To Change How They Get Licensed

joanne johnson
Flickr Creative Commons

Those who follow education and politics in Idaho will probably be hearing the phrase ‘tiered licensure’ a lot in the next few months. The idea is to create different levels of teaching licenses.  Idaho Education News reporter Clark Corbin has been following the issue closely. Corbin says the plan has many teachers worried.

“One of the big sticking points for the teacher’s union is they say it’s unfair to tie a teacher’s license to an evaluation performed at the local level,” Corbin says. “So they’re fighting this in a major way.”

The Idaho Education Association (IEA) teacher’s union is not against the idea of tiered licensure. In fact, IEA representatives sat on the task force that in 2013, recommended such a system be created. But the plan that a State Board of Education group has crafted over the last few months isn’t what the union and others were hoping for.

The plan has three license levels: residency, professional and master. Each level would be tied to a salary level starting at $40,000 for resident teachers. That’s an increase from Idaho’s current $31,750 minimum salary.

Teachers would have to move to a higher tier or renew their existing licenses every few years. That renewal is tied to several factors including student test scores and performance evaluations.

“Some of the folks that oppose this are concerned about the license essentially being their career,” Corbin says. “You may lose your job in Bonneville, but so long as you have that license you can go teach in West Ada or Boise."   

Corbin says he’s spoken with some teachers who support the plan. He says they’re comfortable meeting a high bar and think the license renewal will weed out people who are not up to the challenge of teaching.

The tiered licensure plan with be discussed in three public meetings: Oct. 7 in Pocatello, Oct. 14 in Lewiston and Oct. 21 in Nampa. The state board may use feedback from those meetings to revise the plan. The board plans a vote to approve the final proposal in November. The board will likely ask the legislature to OK it in January.

“The way that state board officials and legislators have explained this is, in order for the legislature to look at increasing teacher salaries they want more accountability and they want data,” Corbin says. “And that’s where tiered licensure comes in.”

Find reporter Adam Cotterell on Twitter @cotterelladam

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