Idaho Board of Ed:  There are only 374 great teachers in the Gem State

Board of Ed LogoIdaho’s State Board of Education finally guidlines-and-a-review-process for determining Jedi quality master teachers last week.  The report concludes that only 374 teachers in Idaho will qualify for the Master Educator distinction out of an eligible pool of 18,710 educators in Idaho.

This outcome seems to be an outright contradiction to the original intention of establishing a master teacher program which was designed to push many veteran educators closer to the original top salary level proposed during the tiered licensure debate.  In fact, the requirements to receive the Jedi distinction from padawan colleagues is so onerous that the truly excellent teachers will likely spend their already strapped time on their classroom instead of completing yet another pile of paperwork mandated by the state.

The report issued by the State Board of Ed requires that educators seeking their black-belt to develop a comprehensive portfolio which includes artifacts, a narrative explaining each artifact, and tedious explanations of how each artifact is tied to a plethora of categories in the evaluation rubric.  

In fact, the framework supplied by the state from the portfolio cover page to the rubric for the last standard is an overwhelming 26 pages all by itself.  That is 26 blank pages already without the teacher’s artifacts, writeup of each artifact, narrative of how each artifact ties to specific standards, etc.  Teacher portfolios will resemble the bricks of paper known as closing documents when purchasing a home by the time they are completed.

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Which completely defeats the point.  The purpose of this master educator program was to reward teachers for the excellent work many educators are already performing in the state.  It was not designed to punitively punish educators who already put every spare moment of their time into their classrooms.  The application process, however, wants another pound of flesh from teachers already worked to the bone.

The payout for countless hours putting together the comprehensive portfolio that an educator might be eligible to receive after investing significant time that would have been better utilized in professional development or curriculum planning?  $4,000.

That’s not an insignificant sum.  But it’s not a guaranteed payout either.  And for educators looking to increase their compensation it is much more likely they will take a summer or part-time gig of guaranteed wages rather than tempting fate with mountains of paperwork for a check that they might be found eligible for.  

Most teachers I talk to about the criteria are so frustrated and angry about the significant requirements that they have already stated their intention to not develop a portfolio or apply for the distinction.  That, unfortunately, includes the bulk of educators I would truly call Jedi Master quality teachers.

It appears that the intent in developing this onerous process was precisely to deter eligible candidates from applying.  Out of an eligible pool 18,710 candidates the report forecasts that just 374 educators, or an astonishingly small 2% of the population, will qualify for this distinction.  That shockingly small number comes from a deliberate calculation to make the process so overwhelming as to hang up a sign that reads “need not apply” for the bulk of Idaho’s teachers.

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So congratulations educators in Idaho.  The State Board thinks that only 2% of you are excellent enough to receive your Jedi distinction.  Clearly, this is yet another reason why qualified talent is moving in droves to teach the children in the Gem State.

Oh wait…  

3 thoughts on “Idaho Board of Ed:  There are only 374 great teachers in the Gem State

  1. Cherie Strong

    You forgot to mention that the $4000 increase in pay is only for three years. Now why would I want to spend all my spare time (what little spare time I have for myself), to do just as you said a mountain of paperwork only to maybe be accepted as a master teacher. What happened to all the education classes we take to get a masters degree or an Ed Specialist degree? Doesn’t that prove we are master teachers? Obviously not.
    I appreciate your article. Hopefully someday (probably when I am retired and living in a second rate nursing home because I can’t afford the top rate nursing home), the legislature will realize that we are teaching the future. We are teaching future doctors, lawyers, nurses and yes even legislatures. I can only wish them well in the decisions they make for the future Idaho citizens.

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  2. Betsy Cornell

    Thanks for sharing a well written and passionate article; I cut it out of today’s paper and set out to find this website! As a recent transplant back to Idaho, and a National Board Certified Teacher, I have lots to learn about why this national designation (National Board for Professional Teaching Standards) is not the bar for “jedi teachers” in Idaho — rather than the cumbersome portfolio system you described. Who is scoring these portfolios? What is the cost? What supports/mentoring are made available to teachers who want to purse this work? And why isn’t the stipend (a pittance, truly) good for the scope of the teacher’s licensing period. You can see I have my homework cut out. I love Idaho; grew up here and graduated from ISU. However the funding and support for teachers is way behind the norm in other states.

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  3. Bobbi

    Ok, any post with part of the title saying “…There are only 374 great teachers in the Gem State” is definitely going to get my attention! And I definitely agree with your thoughts on enough documents to be like a real estate loan closing package is a LOT more work than already busy and effective teachers have time to complete.
    Great post with humor sprinkled in – what’s not to love! Thank you!

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