Commentary: Idaho Gov. Otter lacking in vision

This editorial appeared in The Idaho Statesman.

Gov. Butch Otter wants to preside over a dismantling of Idaho public schools.

There is no subtle way to say it. And there is no way Idahoans should accept it.

Otter's K-12 plan – using the word loosely – calls for cutting 5 percent from the schools' budget for teachers and staff.

This will mean fewer class days, fewer teachers in the schools, and more children crammed into classes.

While public school students – 275,000 and rising – feel the pain, Idaho will sit on a $114 million public school "rainy-day" fund. Perhaps it's time for new terminology. We're treating this like an "armageddon" fund.

The hoarding of the rainy-day dollars isn't Otter's idea exclusively. State schools Superintendent Tom Luna first suggested using federal economic stimulus dollars to plug budget holes - while keeping money in reserve and cutting $62 million from public schools.

Otter adopts this bad plan and manages to make it even worse.

Luna has already proposed cutting 1.5 percent in teacher pay and 6 percent in administration – leaving districts to decide whether to reduce pay, impose furloughs or eliminate jobs. An additional 5 percent cut will almost certainly force schools to get rid of teachers. What a shabby way to treat our kids. What a foolish way to try to promote Idaho as a good place to raise a family and launch a business.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Idaho Statesman.