Idaho Teachers: Take Your Bribe and Settle Down

ui_sealThe Board of Education recently sent out an open letter to Idaho’s educators regarding the new Tiered Teacher Certification proposal.

The letter flatly admits that Idaho’s teachers aren’t compensated anywhere near where they should be (true), but then argues that the only way Idaho legislators would find a raise to be palatable is to move to a tiered teacher certification system (false).

A few things to point out here: a tiered certification system is a completely separate topic than teacher compensation. The attempt to conflate the two different items as being one and the same is deceptive, at worst, and misleading, at best.

There is no reason why a discussion on raising a teacher’s wages and salary must be tied to a tiered certification model.  States across the nation, including our own, seem to have managed to have discussions about salaries without tiered discussion up to now; why, suddenly, is it imperative that tiered certification be tied to compensation?

Here’s the rub: teachers in Idaho desperately need a raise.  Nobody, including the task-force members and the Board of Ed, disputes this.  However, by tying compensation to certification a teacher is handing over many protections, due process, and compensation that was previously guaranteed.

We’re not talking small potatoes here either.  According to the open letter the proposed changes would help catch Idaho up to neighboring states in terms of compensation.

$40,000 for beginning teachers (up from the current $31,750)
 $47,000 to $51,000 for teachers who hold a professional certificate
 $54,000 to $58,000 for teachers who qualify for a master designation (up from the current maximum
of $47,000)

Yet, here’s the rub.  A teacher loses many protections for this bribe.  Here’s a few to ponder:

  • While the state continues to repeat propaganda that a teacher cannot lose their credential as part of this shift in policy, that is simply untrue.
  • Standardized test data, the SBAC, will be tied to an instructor’s evaluation for instructors teaching reading, writing and math.
    • Special educators, English Language Learner instructors, and at-risk school such as alternative schools and academies should be especially alarmed by this rule.  These students, nearly by definition, are “behind.”  If they were proficient, then they likely wouldn’t be in these classrooms to begin with.  Tying standardized test data to certification and compensation is insane, particularly for instructors working with these populations.
  • An administrator’s evaluation will be tied to your certification.
    • For the initial, residency, certification a poor evaluation according to the Danielson Framework model doesn’t meet the tiered expectations, this new teacher will not be allowed to renew the certificate.
    • A teacher with a professional certificate, while still allowed to teach, will be placed in a quasi-probationary status in the contingent certificate along with a drop in compensation.
    • While I would like to imagine a world in which local and/or building politics don’t creep into an evaluation, we should not even have to take the risk.

So here’s the deal, and it’s one that is tempting to swallow:  Teachers in Idaho, you are being bribed to give up rights that you are entitled now in order to receive a rise in your compensation.  It is tempting.

The raise was needed long ago, but let’s not forget that teacher compensation is a completely seperate issue than the tiered certification proposal.  This is an attempt to comflate the two as being one and the same, which is simply untrue.

I’ll admit it.  I want the increase in my salary to be competitive with surrounding states.  However, I want to make sure that I retain the rights that I have now, particularly because I work with a special education population that is unlikely to achieve “proficient” SBAC scores in comparison to other GenEd populations.

Again, I ask Idaho teachers to make themselves heard.  I emailed the State Board about meeting times for this forum because these meeting dates are not listed on their own website. The public forum dates were emailed to me; however, the list emailed to me was incomplete as it did not include Pocatello or the time of day.

The IEA’s website seems to have more accurate info than the Board of Ed (oh, the irony) as they have all three dates along with the times.

Please note, all meetings will be held at 7PM.

Tuesday, Oct. 7 Pocatello ISU Student Union-Salmon River Room

Tuesday, Oct. 14 Lewiston LCSC, Meriwether Lewis Hall Room 100

Tuesday, Oct. 21 Nampa CWI, Nampa Micron Center for PTE Classrooms 1710 A/B

I implore educators to make themselves heard in person at these meetings.  The state needs to see that teachers are unified that, yes we need a pay raise; however, no we don’t need to lose our rights for certification renewal.

We will not be bribed.

If you cannot make the meeting in person, please write the Board of Ed at

Feel free to use my letter as a template.

We don’t have much time to organize.  How will this improve student learning?  Why would instructors want to work with populations not likely to produce proficient scores like SpEd and ELL?

This is poor policy.  This is poor process.  Make yourself heard.



4 thoughts on “Idaho Teachers: Take Your Bribe and Settle Down

  1. JaKell Sullivan

    Great article. Keep in mind that Bill Gates thinks teachers are only good for 3 years anyway. Our amazing teachers should be concerned, not only that this is a bribe, but that it is part of the plan to revamp who’s qualified to teach. The plan is for groups like Teach for America to take over the teaching profession. See what Gate’s has already pulled off in Seattle. Watch this Gate’s TED Talk: Here’s the transcript of the talk: Here’s someone comparing what’s in the speech to Arne Duncan’s policies:×8767512


  2. Danielle Billing

    Not to mention the fact that the Danielson model is designed to aid in professional development and help teachers improve over time. It was never meant to be used punitively. And that’s exactly what the state is doing now.


  3. Dustin

    I should have known there were going to be idiots out there that would be opposed to this. You must be one of the nutty union members that is hell-bent on protecting bad teachers. Has it occurred to you that an increase in salary will attract better teachers to our state? At that point, shouldn’t we be able to scrape the dog crap (horrible teachers) off our shoes and get a fresh start?

    The chances of the Idaho Legislature passing this are next to nothing with Butch working against education as much as he is. The sad thing is that there are too many teachers out there that will listen to you because they can’t handle the fact that higher pay means higher accountability. The only people who oppose this are the ones who believe they won’t make the cut when up against better teachers.



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