Professor Advocating for Local Superintendents, Principals, Teachers, and Students
April 4, 2022
Fostering a strong public education system centered on celebrating teachers and letting them know their profession is valued by making education a priority in Idaho is the mission of Idaho State University College of Education Assistant Professor Dr. Geoff Thomas and a new group called RISE.
RISE is a non-profit group that strives to be a K-16 voice for educators and to promote pro-student and pro-school legislation policies and advocacy. With a combined 100+ years of public teaching and administrative experience among members of RISE, the group prioritizes Idaho’s K-16 education challenges that include the nationwide teacher shortage, classroom resources, compensation and pay, universal early childhood care and education, and more.
Through his role as an education consultant in RISE, Thomas’s hope is to empower the next generation of administrators, teachers and students. He notes, “Let’s get behind education instead of tearing it down and let’s elevate the teaching profession. I love to advocate for education, especially for Idaho State University and other universities in Idaho, because I know education is life changing.”
In July of 2021, Dr. Thomas joined RISE where he helps to address educational challenges including advocating for support for one of the most critical and impactful challenges, the teacher pipeline shortage.
“In some areas in Idaho, districts are losing up to 10-50% of their employees,” says Thomas. “In order to attract and retain the best and brightest to teach our kids, we first need to let them know that their profession is valued. Then once these teachers are prepared and hired, we need them to stay in Idaho, so we have to make our salaries and benefits competitive.”
Thomas’s passion and commitment to public education stemmed from his previous employment as the Madison School District 321 superintendent. Thomas held this position for 20 years before announcing his retirement in 2021 and taking professorship at the College of Education where he teaches aspiring superintendents and principals that are part of the ISU’s Education Specialist and Doctorate in Educational Leadership degree programs.
“As a principal or superintendent, especially in rural areas, you are seen as a leader in your community. The superintendent plays a huge role, politically, in advocating for teachers compensation, instruction, and policies,” notes Thomas. “We need practicing administrators and teachers, but especially administrators, who are leaders that speak up and speak out. As I am preparing future superintendents and principals, they must know that they are the voice for the people who already have heavy responsibilities.”
To learn more about RISE, please visit https://risetvep.org/. RISE’s mission is to provide a statewide voice for education in Idaho. RISE seeks to operate in alignment with public education partners to impact legislation, engage parents, and support educators. While RISE does not advocate for one legislator or another, they do try to inform legislators regarding education policy and pro-public school funding. RISE supports the Take Back Idaho initiative that strives to bring politics back to mainstream issues such as the teacher shortage that affect the lives of ordinary Idahoans.