Think back on your favorite teacher. We all have one.
Mine was Mrs. Dresser, my second-grade teacher at Butte View Elementary in Emmett. Before Mrs. Dresser, reading felt like a chore to me. She brought joy to reading and set me on a path of learning that benefits me still today.
Undoubtedly there are moments in many teachers’ early careers when they internally debate whether to continue in their chosen profession due to low pay.
Today I signed my teacher pay bill, increasing starting teacher salaries to $40,000 a year. The Idaho Legislature passed the bill with overwhelming support. We are sending a clear signal to our teachers and Idahoans considering a career in education that we appreciate and value them.
We have a challenge retaining teachers in the early part of their careers, particularly in rural, underserved, and border communities. About 15 percent of Idaho’s teachers leave the workforce after just one year on the job, and one-third of teachers who become certified in Idaho do not teach in an Idaho school.
Dedicated, high-quality, professional educators in Idaho classrooms are a huge factor in students’ long-term success and achievement. I want to ensure Idaho’s starting teachers are compensated fairly and competitively so they remain here and educate the next generation of Idahoans.
My teacher pay bill focuses on one key component of the teaching pipeline and career continuum: get more teachers trained and in Idaho classrooms. Our goal is to mentor them and pay them more as they progress in their careers and demonstrate student success.
Mrs. Dresser had more impact on me than she ever knew. Like all teachers, she loved learning and helping others learn. She had a heart for making a difference.
There are future “favorite teachers” all around us. I hope Idahoans considering a career in education feel encouraged by our efforts to increase starting teacher pay. We want them to know we appreciate their hard work, and we honor the commitment they make to our kids every day.
Brad Little is the governor of the State of Idaho. The views and opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the Independent-Enterprise.