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Idaho dead last in per student investment

| April 29, 2021 1:00 AM

Idaho remains dead last among the 50 states and the District of Columbia in per student funding, according to the annual report from the National Education Association, which was released today. The NEA Rankings and Estimates are the industry standard for metrics associated with public education, including per student funding, enrollment, teacher compensation, and class sizes.

Idaho invested only $7,705 per student in 2019-20, 51st in the national rankings, and was $601 per student behind the next lowest state, Utah, which checked in at number 50. Additionally, Idaho was one of only three states to see a decrease in per student funding from 2018-19, joining Alabama and Maryland in that dubious category.

“The Idaho legislature’s lack of support for public education continues to be a national embarrassment,” says Idaho Education Association President Layne McInelly. “While our legislature is focused on unnecessary tax cuts, private school vouchers, and kangaroo court task forces on “indoctrination”, the real problems facing Idaho public, including dramatic shortages in resources and personnel, remain unaddressed.”

The latest rankings also show that Idaho trails most of its surrounding states in average teacher salary, which makes it difficult for school districts to recruit and retain educators, particularly in border communities. Below are the relevant rankings for average teacher salary from the latest report.

  • Montana #40
  • Idaho #39
  • Utah #31
  • Nevada #28
  • Wyoming #20
  • Oregon #13
  • Washington #6

“While Idaho has made some headway in raw compensation to our dedicated professional educators, surrounding states have also increased pay, so the relative increase is negligible,” notes McInelly. “Our legislature must do more to help local school districts retain their veteran teachers and attract early career educators.”

Idaho is also on the wrong end of the report in another important metric — class sizes. Idaho has the sixth highest average number of students enrolled per teacher, which drastically reduces the amount of individualized instruction students can receive.

The full 2020 NEA Rankings and Estimates report is attached and can also be found at https://www.nea.org/research-publications, along with reports from previous years.