The most important ingredient in academic success is the quality of the classroom teacher. Tom Luna, Idaho state superintendent of education, has created the ISTARS program that is specifically designed to improve classroom teacher's compensation by a significant amount. Under the program a new teacher could start at more than $38,000 a year, up from $31,000, a significant increase.
Moreover, Idaho's more experienced teachers could earn more than $13,000 in bonuses. Most importantly, the focus of the program is on the student. ISTARS provides the funding and the system to stimulate teachers to work together to raise student achievement. Currently, no program exists that pays teachers for improving student performance. The way teachers get ahead is to move into administration and that takes them out of the classroom, and that is not always beneficial.
It is important to know the ISTARS compensation plan is fully funded by the Legislature and will become law and part of statutory spending in Idaho. While the Legislature has cut education budgets in the past, it has never reduced statutory spending in education. To cut this funding, they would have to pass bills repealing the ISTARS statute in both the House and the Senate and obtain the governor's signature, a process that makes it very difficult to not fund the program in future years.
ISTARS provides an innovative plan to provide incentives to teachers, while focusing on student achievement. Our students deserve it and Idaho's future depends on it.
To learn more about ISTARS, visit www.sde.idaho.gov.istars.
Maurice M. Charlat