Idaho first lady (and former teacher) says reform invests in teachers

Today, First Lady Lori Otter took her turn touting the Students Come First education reform plan, saying it will move schools ahead as the state confronts an "unprecedented funding cliff."

"As a former teacher, I am excited about the possibilities this plan provides for great teachers now and in the future," she said in a guest opinion released this afternoon.

"Some have claimed this plan 'devalues teachers.' That couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s the only option that actually invests in teachers."

Here's the full guest opinion:

Whether you have been at the head of the classroom or in a desk on the other end, you know the importance of quality teaching. It makes all the difference.

With the help of a great teacher, a struggling student can excel. Under an ineffective teacher, that student may never catch up. We know this from our own school experiences, as well as extensive research.

The teacher is and always will be the most important factor in student success.

If we truly want to put students first, we have to make sure we invest in Idaho’s teachers. That’s exactly what the Students Come First plan does.

As a former teacher, I am excited about the possibilities this plan provides for great teachers now and in the future.

Some have claimed this plan “devalues teachers.” That couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s the only option that actually invests in teachers.

Right now, our state faces an unprecedented funding cliff. We cannot cut our schools more. We cannot raise taxes on hard-working Idahoans. Taxpayers and parents want the government to figure how to do more with less. Students Come First gets us there.

Through this plan, Idaho will save $500 million over the next five years — all of which gets reinvested back into the classroom.

Half of this money goes directly into teacher pay. While other states are cutting teacher salaries, Idaho is working to put $250 million into raising pay for teachers, restoring the funding grid, and finally rewarding excellence in the classroom.

Pay-for-performance will be in addition to the base salary. Why am I excited about this? Well, if I was still in the classroom, I could earn up to $8,000 in bonuses a year. We have great teachers all across our state. It’s time we showed our appreciation.

Teachers also will have access to advanced technology through an unprecedented $53 million investment in hardware, software and professional development. Every year, teachers vie for technology grants for their classrooms. Now, this will be commonplace in every school. Technology provides many opportunities for teachers to work smarter, not harder.

Above all, the state of Idaho will establish a professional, quality working environment for educators. From now on, teachers will be evaluated on their skills and performance, not longevity. Evaluations will be fair and equitable. Student achievement will be measured based on academic growth, not solely on proficiency. All professional development will focus on what students and teachers need.

These are the things highly effective teachers have been demanding for years. I heard it as a classroom teacher, at the administrative level, as a citizen, and the First Lady of Idaho. Through Students Come First, we can finally provide teachers with the tools they need to help raise student achievement.

The time is now. In the words of Gabriela Mistral (1945 Nobel Laureate in Literature): “Many things can wait; children cannot. Today, their bones are being formed, their blood is being made, and their senses are being developed. To Them, we cannot say ‘tomorrow.’ Their name is Today.”

Let’s work together to make sure our Students Come First…Today.


There is no savings in this plan. Half of the savings will go to teachers' salaries? Impossible.

Aren't Unemployment benefits a federal thing?


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actually invests in teachers

These comments are from a First Lady of a Governor. Not a former teacher.
Some have claimed this plan “devalues teachers.” That couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s the only option that actually invests in teachers.
NOT the 800 that are going to be looking for new jobs.
If we truly want to put students first, we have to make sure we invest in Idaho’s teachers. That’s exactly what the Students Come First plan does.
The plan puts more kids in classrooms, this is not Students Come First.

they will not be looking for

they will not be looking for jobs if you educated yourself you would see no one is being fired they just will not be replacing people who have retired or left there jobs

Really 800 teacher’s retiring over the next 2 yrs?

Really 800 teacher’s retiring over the next 2 yrs? BS
Schools districts are going to have to cut programs and have already cut programs.


The word Luna uses is attrition...MY job is attrition. I was hired after August first. According to this plan my job will not be refilled. I am not retiring...I am the sole provider since my husband was medically retired from the military and cannot work. Elimiating 800 teaching jobs and more support staff eliminates possible positions for all of this year's college graduates, and the next. So regardless of whether they hand out pink slips this plan takes jobs away from Idahoans.

School board

From what I read, the school board will decide whether or not to maintain the position you occupy and whether you will occupy that position or not. Much the same as when a private business increases or reduces its work force.

read yourself

If attrition doesn't cover the RIF needed, teachers get laid off. Further, even though research proves that experienced teachers are more effective, experience cannot be considered as a factor for retention.

Lori Otter an expert?

Time for the dog and pony show - will Idahoans blindly follow along or do what's best for our kids.

Why stop at 800

If the First Lady is right and the Governor's plan to cut 800 teachers is nohing more than an investment in teachers, why stop at cutting just 800? Why not eliminate 10,000 teachers? That would then really be an "investment" to be proud of! Seriously, they have to trot the First Lady out for such pathetic spin?

You don't HAVE 10,000 teachers in Idaho!

Not even 10,000 car salesmen.


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Done Deal

Remember how our government has been pushing legislation down our throats (wars, health care, controls after controls on everything that will dismantle the American way of life as we know it) and the people just take it. Well, our legislature and governor and Supy of Ed are in the process of demeaning education in our state. It's a global process to move our global world into a virtual world where most people will again be the serfs (slaves) and the elite shall enjoy the luxuries of the world. The plan is already taking shape. It's scary. This educational dilemma is being pushed in 26 other states. Wisconsin, at the moment, is the most distressed.

How much !!

How much will we sending to the out of state suppliers ?

I hope alot we depend on you.



the money.

Kick back from Scott Albertson?

Per the AP article. No wonder Albertsons paid for a full page ad backing the Luna/Otter agenda.


...the money.


invest really means-----spend MORE that WE DONT HAVE.
Idaho 1st ladys been obamaized

Michele Obama WANTS education. Not a great comparison.


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come on now


Giant tax cut for the rich and two unfunded wars.

There's enough deficit spending blame to go around.

Good work First Lady

Maybe her next guest opinion will be the one where she says (and actually has said) Frank Church was the real cause of the 9/11 attacks.

Why, because he sponsored The the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 that restricted CIA spying to overseas areas. Think about a mind that would draw that connection.

It's ironic, if not stupifying, that the former teacher is thrilled that 770 former teachers will not be providing their "greatness " now and in the future.

Why? Because somebody cooked the books to make it look like $500 million will be saved in five years. If anyone can call that shot, they ought to be managing a billion dollar hedge fund or calling the Super Bowl winner.

And a SDE staff estimate declared, five years into the future, that computers can replace teachers without a validating test in a single Idaho school district. Many students testified at the Senate Education Commitiee hearing that the courses are boring and useless. And some colleges do not accept them as credit.

Did Lori notice that even though the original proposal for 8 mandatory courses ended up in the bill as 4 courses, the number of cuts to teachers stayed at 770. It's actually closer to 1,200 when other certified positons (counselors, speech and hearing specialists, psychologists,etc) are included.

BTW, who asked for her opinion. I probably know.

Please edit yourself

1 oa 2 lines max. Thankyou.

1 or two lines?

Don't be afraid to read and, even more, don't be afraid to read until you have to think a little and pay attention. Serious issues can't begin to be discussed in one or two line snippets. It is vital that the free flow of ideas continue. Write on and ignore the critics and grammarians!

remember no one is getting

remember no one is getting fired over 3000 teachers each year retire of leave there jobs just some of these position will not be filled

wow ignorance

how many teachers "retire" and leave teaching each yr?----#'s please?
those that retire are still being payed by the STATE/US

Pensions are paid into from wages and many LOSE THEIRS.

Nobody is paying people any money that wasn't saved for them, just like Social Security retirement. A lot of people loose their pensions to the follies of bad COMMERCIAL businesses but these pensions are mandated and taken from their SALARIES.

Still the people who are desperate to use other people's money will poke around and fuss about stuff they have no clue about and no right to.

The ignorant are always the first to crucify.


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not so fast

That is a statewide number. If a district does not lose enough through attrition, they will have to layoff teachers.


There are 14,500 teachers in Idaho. Do you really believe that one of every five (20%) retire every year? Misinformation is only effective when people are uninformed...Oh wait, this is Idaho.

1st lady....

I have always liked you, you are a classy lady, but you are wrong,
in this econ enviro.

Thanks for appreciating teachers

I am glad you understand how important teachers are. Now please explain this to your husband. He seems to think that we should get rid of hundreds of them. How can you possibly write this Mrs. Otter?


Much appreciated----- and unions who support bad teachers suck.
But I find it interesting.....Why in samhill are test scores/grades/education as a BIG whole?
education has been going in the chitter for yrs now. Seems to me since 1933 when the DOE took "control" the whole system has been a toilet flush.
Here in America we have been teaching our kids for OVER 250yrs,BUT, since 1933 the education system has been USING our kids a guinea pigs NOT to teach but to "form" into a good socialist
Im glad WE home schooled......We "formed" independent thinking, highly motivated and successful, entrepreneurial spirited kids...............Oooooooooooooooo how could this be?
Could it be that we taught true history instead of lies? or could it be that we taught our kids
to THINK instead of theorizing thoughtless conclusions based on relativism...OOOoo heavy.
good day mate

So you taught them your

So you taught them your views based upon your logic. Very subjective. You formed or molded your kids into little "you's". What is true history? History has always been written from the winner's standpoint. I don't know of any best selling WW11 books written by Germans (Nazis). Tell me how open you are in your thoughts to other viewpoints. You sound pretty closed minded to me.

home schooler

It was your RESPONSIBILITY to "form" independent thinking, highly motivated and successful kids no matter where they went to school. Cut the nonsense about socialism, because it is nonsense. Your public school teachers are members of your community. This is not a red state with a bunch of commie blue teachers. Every teacher I know (and that's hundreds here in Idaho)wants to accomplish exactly what you claim to have done IN PARTNERSHIP with you not in spite of you. Too often this is the case.

Further, education since the onset of the industrial model at the end of the nineteenth century has been in the "chitter." There was never any golden age of education. Read The Manufactured Crisis.

I hope you also taught your kids not to believe everything they think or that you think. You have a lot of unsupportable ideas that shouldn't be passed on.


Unions do not support bad teachers. They support due process for all teachers. If you think too many bad teachers are floating along, support changing the evaluation system so that administrators actually have the time and expertise to evaluate. Do you want administrators dumping teachers because they "think" those teachers are incompetent or because they have a system in place that can define that bad teacher as incompetent.

Does the Statesman have to run this ghost written propaganda?

Just asking,

Yes they do, it's an opinion column and news of the state.


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Why is she a "former"

Why is she a "former" teacher? Teachers aren't evaluated on longevity for cripe's sake!

She married Butch Otter, of course. Remember Princess Diana?



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Lady Diana Spencer was a SCHOOL TEACHER. Google please.


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Start Counting Now!

How many teachers will earn $8000 a year in bonus money. Well, probably someone related to you know who.

(No subject)

This is part of the

This is part of the republican's agenda to remove unions across the country. They could give a rats behind about kids.

I might be "excited", too

if I were a *former* teacher.

It's the *current* teachers who have an issue with it.


No, First Lady, not true....the "teacher is and always will be the most important factor in student success." It's the PARENTS and research supports that fact. Having been a teacher you should know that!

Unions should.....

start paying for my retirement, health care, and pensions...Look at Wisconsin...What a bunch of anti-democracy libs...the dems we really need anymore reasons why not to ever vote for them?...I don't agree with Luna's plan, but the dems could help make things better and help on the budgets....Idaho is actually one of the few states where the deficit is not too bad.....

Idaho also has fewer services

Poorer roads, crumbling infrastructure, and poor upkeep of state parks as an example. We're at the bottom rung among states.

This move on the unions is nothing more than a reaction to Citizens United's ruling giving corporations and unions unrestricted election givng. The corporations are therefore trying to bust the unions so the working class will have little voice in elections.

What savings?

"Through this plan, Idaho will save $500 million over the next five years — all of which gets reinvested back into the classroom."

If it is ALL reinvested back, how is ANY saved?

Answer - none of it is SAVED!!

It is simply shifted from one pot, controlled by school boards to pay their people, into another pot controlled by Luna to pay back his cronies and financial supporters.

And you definitely pa$$ed Psych and Economics cla$$es-Kudos!


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to punish teachers and the teacher's union for not supporting him.