Wednesday, August 8, 2018


2018 Advanced Placement testing took place in May, and the results were returned from the College Board in July. Here is a summary of the results for the Boise School District.

Exams and Participants

The number of exams taken by District students reached another all-time high, at 4,806. Boise High School again led the way with 1,688 exams taken, but Timberline's total surged to 1,381, with approximately 200 fewer students enrolled than Boise.

The number of participants in AP testing has also grown dramatically over the years, as the District has provided more opportunities and taken down barriers to participation.

In fact, District high schools have made remarkable progress in providing access to coursework and encouragement to take AP exams. Though Advanced Opportunities funds have certainly helped and contributed to the rapid growth of participants and exams recently, the District's efforts to expand access began well before significant funds became available.

Typically, as the percentage of student participation In Advanced Placement testing grows in a school or a district, the passing percentage (scores of "3" and above) declines. In Boise, our goal has been to provide access to rigorous coursework to as many students as possible. knowing that even taking an Advanced Placement test can contribute to success in post-secondary studies, since students have an understanding of the rigor at the next level.

"A 2013 study found that students who took one or more AP Exams, regardless of what score was earned, were more likely to graduate from college in four years compared to non-AP

You can see the pattern in Boise - we have been gratified that so many students who might not have participated in the past are now jumping in and taking those difficult AP exams. By way of reference, Idaho's passing percentage in 2017 was 59%  (57% without Boise) and the national percentage was 57%.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018


Here are a few articles of interest from the past month or so on the web.

Gates' Latest Education Project

"Here's How Not to Improve Public Schools" is an op-ed by Cathy O'Neil published in Bloomberg.  In the op-ed, O'Neil recounts the failures of Bill Gates' latest education project, Intensive Partnerships for Effective Teaching, which was designed to use Value-Added Measurement to reward good teachers and get rid of bad ones. Gates spent $575 million on the project.

We have repeatedly railed against VAM in this blog, but O'Neil writes of how Gates' experiment actually caused harm: 

"The approach that the Gates program epitomizes has actually done damage. It has unfairly ruined careers, driving teachers out of the profession amid a nationwide shortage."

A number of opinion pieces have recently been published about the failed Gates experiment. Here is another  from  the Stamford, Connecticut Advocate, and here's a link to the actual study evaluating the Gates experiment, conducted by the Rand Corporation.

Workers' Share of Growth Erodes

Patricia Cohen writes "Paychecks Lag as Profits Soar, and Prices Erode Wage Gains" in the Upshot, the New York Times Magazine. Cohen details the stagnation in worker pay and the increase in corporate profits, especially since the end of the Great Recession.

"Seven things research reveals — and doesn’t — about Advanced Placement" is from Valerie Strauss' Answer Sheet blog.  If you have not exceeded your monthly quota you should be able to read the embedded guest article by Suneal Kolluri, a doctoral student at the University of Southern California. Kolluri has done a thorough review of the  research surrounding A.P., and has provided a summary in this article.

Here is one of Kolluri's summary findings:

"Access to Advanced Placement courses in high schools has been expanding, probably far more than the founders of the program could have imagined. The College Board’s efforts to encourage more low-income students and students of color to engage with the program have made meaningful inroads to diversifying Advanced Placement. A program initially confined to elite boarding schools now serves students from diverse communities across the United States. The past decades have seen particularly accelerated expansion of AP. While in 1994 only 14.9 percent of all U.S. high school students graduated with AP credit, by 2013 that number had risen to over 39 percent."

Though for most the summary will be sufficient, you can access the full research study here.

And finally, it's hard to resist providing a link to an article from Curmudgucation, our favorite blog. Peter Greene, an English teacher from Pennsylvania, has retired, but his blog lives on, and he has more time to write, it seems!

In "Another Merit Pay Failure", Greene writes about an Arizona charter school's effort to deny teachers performance pay and the battle that ensued. He also restates his argument that merit pay is simply not appropriate in education.

Monday, July 9, 2018

2017 COLLEGE GRADS (Part 3)

Here is the final post in this 3-part series about the Boise District alums who graduated from college in 2017. In this post, we are interested in what may or may not have changed with respect to our Engineering graduates.

Engineering Grads by Major Area

As we indicated in Part 2, the number of Computer Science/Engineering grads has skyrocketed since we last did this comparison. In fact, as you can see below, CS/E grads make up almost 40% of engineering grads compared with 17% in the last analysis.

It's also interesting to note that 61% of engineering graduates were in two areas, Computer Science/Engineering and Mechanical Engineering.

Engineering Grads by College/Area

In our analysis of engineering grads the classes of 2010-14, we found that 54% of graduates came from in-state colleges, with the University of Idaho leading the way with 31% of the degree-earners.

In 2017, 49% of the grads came from in-state, but Boise State has surged ahead in terms of the number and percentage of in-state graduates. Interestingly, much of the change came in the area of Computer Science/Engineering, where BSU graduated 7 students and Idaho had only 2 graduates. Also of note is the fact that Utah and Utah State combined graduated 7 engineering students in 2017.

Where are They Working?

It's not difficult to find most of the engineering grads - they have landed in good jobs just a year after graduating from college with a Bachelor's degree. You can see from the chart above, though, that the pattern we found in 2014 still persists. If our kids go to school out of state, they tend to stay in the community in which their college is located. If they attend Boise State or Idaho, most remain in Idaho for work. One encouraging data point is that BSU is attracting more engineering/computer science students, and almost all of them are employed here in Idaho, tipping the balance slightly toward in-state employment.

Monday, June 25, 2018

2017 COLLEGE GRADS (Part 2)

In part 1 of this post, we wrote about the general characteristics of the 574 Boise District graduates who matriculated from college in 2017. In part 2, we will look at the majors of those who earned a BS/BA degree in 2017.

For comparative purposes, we will use the results of an analysis done in 2014 of college grads from the high school classes of 2007-2010, and compare that info with that of 2017 graduates.

Major Areas

Nearly a third of 2017 Boise Schools BS/BA degree earners graduated with a degree in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM). Social Science and Business degrees were a distant second and third, respectively.

Note in the chart below that STEM degrees as a percentage of the total have grown since we last measured the distribution back in 2014, from just over 26% to over 32%. Business majors have also increased, but Social Science majors decreased substantially between 2014 and 2017.

Specific Majors

So what has caused the change?  Why have STEM degrees increased so much in popularity? We can see the answer when we look at the top individual majors compared to 2014:

As you can see, Computer Engineering/Science degrees were among the most popular among 2017 college grads, after coming in at 26th among majors for the classes of 2007-2010. The 23 CS grads was within one of the total from the four classes we examined just a few years ago!

Clearly, the efforts of the Idaho Technology Council, and others in increasing Idaho students' exposure to computer science are paying dividends, as more and more students are gravitating toward the area.

But are they finding jobs? That is one topic of part 3 of our examination of 2017 Boise District college grads.

Friday, June 22, 2018


Here's part 1 of a 3-part post about Boise District alumni who matriculated from a college or university in 2017 with a certificate, AA/AS, or a BA/BS degree. In this post, we'll look at general demographic information about the 674 2017 graduates. 


The vast majority of 2017 college grads earned Bachelor's degrees:

A few graduates earned an Associate's degree or a Certificate on the way to a Bachelor's degree. We counted only the Bachelor's degree in those cases.


The largest percentage of degrees and certificates were earned by Boise High graduates, which makes sense in that Boise has had the largest number of graduates for the past few years, and a higher number of students with the financial wherewithal to continue their academic pursuits. Timberline has had the smallest number of high school graduates, but that is likely to change in the near future with the growth in southeast Boise.


As you might expect, the large majority of students (63%) graduated from Idaho colleges and universities. However, 9% of degrees were earned from colleges in the state of Utah, continuing the trend of Boise students' attendance in the Beehive State.

Here's the data for 2017 graduates by college:

Of course, Boise State, Idaho, and CWI had the largest number of graduates. The College of Idaho and Idaho State are next in line with 27 and 26 degrees. BYU-Idaho and the three Utah schools are next in line, and no other colleges had more than 10 graduates. However, four or more Boise students graduated from a number of colleges:

Montana State University - 8, Lewis-Clark State College - 6,Western Washington University- 6, California Polytechnic University - 6, Westminster College (Utah) - 5, Arizona State University - 4, Colorado State University - 4, Northwest Nazarene University - 4, Oregon State University - 4, Seattle University - 4, University of Oregon - 4, Whitman College (WA) - 4.

All told, Boise District alumni graduated from colleges and universities in 35 states and the District of Columbia (Georgetown) in 2017.

Friday, June 8, 2018


There's a lot to catch up on in education, economics, and demographic info from around the web. Here are some of the articles that caught our eye in the past few weeks.

Teacher Uprisings Explained

The Numbers that Explain Why Teachers are in Revolt, by Robert Gebeloff, comes from the NY Times' Upshot Research Blog. In the article uses data to show how funding practices across the country have led to the statewide teacher job actions in a number of states. 

Gebeloff writes: "But while the protests are spreading this year, the underlying conflict between public school employees and policymakers has roots in decisions made during the last recession, when  states and local districts short of cash curtailed education spending for the first time in decades."

Can't They Just Move?

In another Upshot article, Emily Badger explains why many people who struggle financially don't just up and move to another community where rent is more affordable. Here's a selection from her article, "Why Don’t People Who Can’t Afford Housing Just Move Where It’s Cheaper?" :

"People who struggle financially often have valuable social networks — family to help with child care, acquaintances who know of jobs. The prospect of dropping into, say, Oklahoma or Georgia would mean doing without the good income and the social support. Those intangible connections that keep people in places with bad economies also keep people in booming regions where the rent is too high."

Still More Bad News About Vouchers

The newest evaluation of a voucher program comes from the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Evaluation in the form of an analysis of the Washington, D.C. voucher program (called the Opportunity Scholarship Program). The federally funded program provided scholarships for low-income students to attend a private school.

Though the research team, headed by Mark Dynarski, found that voucher recipients and their parents had a positive perception of school safety after two years in the program, they also found that:

"The OSP had a statistically significant negative impact on mathematics achievement after
two years. Mathematics scores were lower for students two years after they applied to the OSP (by 8.0 percentile points for students offered a scholarship and 10.0 percentile points for students who used their scholarship), compared with students who applied but were not selected for the scholarship. Reading scores were lower (by 3.0 and 3.8 percentile points, respectively) but the differences were not statistically significant..."

Demographic Changes by County

Kim Parker writes in the Pew Research Center blog about demographic changes in the United States, and provides an interactive map  that allows you to search for counties across the country and view comparative data. There's also an excellent article that summarizes the changes. From the article:

A Forgotten but Important Desegregation Case

In the Atlantic, William Stancil writes about Green v. New Kent County, the lawsuit that made it to the U.S. Supreme Court and established the basis for many of the most famous busing conflicts of the 1970's. His article, entitled The Radical Supreme Court Decision That America Forgot provides an interesting look at the decision and its ramifications.

Friday, May 18, 2018


Last month, several Boise School District Trustees attended the Boise Chamber of Commerce 2018 Leadership Conference in Sun Valley. A couple of Board members went to a presentation by Boise State University personnel in which they showcased their latest survey (December 2017, 1000 respondents, +-3.1% error margin) results. Here's one of the slides the BSU folks used with respect to preparation:

Wow, not good at all. 29.3% of statewide respondents categorized college preparation efforts as "excellent" or "good". The percentage of "excellent/good" responses for the Boise Metro area was even lower, at 29.0%.

Interestingly, BSU's survey used "fair" as a category, and fully 39% of respondents chose that category for the college prep question. What does "fair" mean to you? Decent? Okay? We aren't sure it's an appropriate category, or that it should be grouped with "poor". But maybe that's just splitting hairs.

However, in the run-up to the 2016 bond measure, we did some polling (300 parents + 300 voters, +- 5.6% margin of error)) in the community with the help of a professional polling group. When they asked a similar question, the results looked very different:

So in this poll the choices are better differentiated. "Very well" was the top choice, "Pretty well" was next. And the two choices associated with "dissatisfaction" were "not too well" and "not at all well".

When the choice of "don't know" is included in the data, 68% of those surveyed chose one of the two "positive" choice. When we factored out the "don't know" responses, the percentage choosing the two "positive" choices rose to 85%.

Admittedly, this poll question asks about "preparing students for a career", so it's a bit less focused than the BSU question on furthering their education". However the difference in response patterns is stark.

However, it's tough to know which of the polls was a more accurate reflection of patron/citizen feeling, since the results differed so dramatically. Perhaps the wisest course, especially considering the accuracy (or lack thereof) of recent state and national polls is to regard polling data with healthy skepticism!


Last week, Idaho Education News did a story entitled "It's a First-Class Finish for  Charter's First Class"about the graduating class at North Idaho Stem Charter Academy, a school in Rathdrum, Idaho.  Seems that, among its first graduating class of 7 students, all have been accepted to and will attend college. One each will attend Whitworth University, Gonzaga University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Idaho State University, the University of California - Berkeley, and two will head to North Idaho College. Very impressive results for these 7 students.

However, a little digging into enrollment patterns revealed that, when this class was in the 7th grade, there were 30 students enrolled. That means that 23 of the charter's Class of 2018 (77%) left the school before graduation. And that pattern appears to be continuing for the Classes of 2019 and 2020.

The folks at Idaho Ed News indicated that NISC is a "difficult school" and thus has a high attrition rate.  But public schools are charged with serving all students, providing a thorough and adequate education for each and every one, and differentiating instruction where it's needed.   There are a number of schools in the state of Idaho, including nearby Lakeland High School in Rathdrum, that do just that. If the school chooses not to serve all students, it's really a private school.

Terry Ryan, Executive Director of BLUUM, the charter advocacy organization, echoed what IEN staff said and also gave this explanation: "some of these students...want more extracurricular activities, especially competitive sports, than these schools are able to offer."

That's a fair explanation that makes sense. Lakeland High School offers music, arts, Career-Technical education coursework, a variety of sports and activities, clubs, Advanced Placement and other accelerated offerings, and a number of electives for students. 

There are many other charter schools in the state that see the same sort of enrollment loss as classes move toward graduation.

A Comprehensive Curriculum

It is true that school districts of some size have more flexibility to offer a variety of classes than do charter schools. So you'd expect some high school students who want more than the "specialty" of the charter (arts, "harbor method", STEM, International Baccalaureate, for example) to move back to the local district for that flexibility.

However, some districts provide a "comprehensive liberal arts curriculum" down into the elementary grades.  For example, Boise District students participate in choir from the earliest days of elementary school, and band and orchestra begin in the 5th grade. If parents choose an alternative such as a charter, their students may miss out on the best music instruction in the northwest. 

Differentiation in math begins in elementary school, as well. Many 5th and 6th graders are enrolled in accelerated math curricula, taught either at the junior high school or in their elementary school. This coursework puts students on the path for Advanced Placement Statistics and Calculus courses, which often satisfy key college entry criteria. In science, as well, acceleration begins in junior high, and can lead to AP Physics C coursework in Electricity and Magnetism, for example.

There are many choices available for parents and children in education these days. Choosing wisely involves investigating the opportunities and the drawbacks that may come with those opportunities.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018


Since we are immersed in Advanced Placement testing in the Boise District, we thought it might be interesting to do a little research on the demographics of test-takers in the District. Following are some of our findings.

Grade Level Distribution of Test-takers is Changing

A couple of years ago we wrote that more sophomores are taking Advanced Placement exams. That pattern is continuing.

As you can see, many more sophomores are taking exams now than have in the past.  The number of sophomores participating in AP testing has increased by over 250%.

As a share of total exams, here's the distribution by grade level in 2012:

Now note how much it changes by 2017:

The percentage of sophomores taking exams almost doubled in six years. Why? Well, mostly because all four comprehensive high schools have opened up additional sections of the two courses most often taken by 10th graders - AP Human Geography (280 exams in 2017) and AP World History (276) - because the two courses are so popular.

Note too that the percentage of exams taken by 9th graders has also grown - this is primarily due to sections of AP Human Geography being offered at North and Hillside Junior High.

The most popular AP exams are those which are the highest level of a required course. For example, AP English Language and Composition (607 test-takers in 2017) satisfies the junior English requirement, and AP Literature and Composition (366) does the same for the senior English requirement. AP U.S. History (315) satisfies a Social Studies requirement, and AP Government (276) satisfies another. 


More Boise District females (54% of participants) took AP exams overall in 2017 than did males (46%). Females also took 52% of the AP exams given in 2017. This pattern is similar to that of the national AP program.

Among the 16 exams with more than 100 participants, more males participated than females in only 5 exams - Calculus AB, Calculus BC, Chemistry, Physics 1, and Computer Science Principles. The widest participation margins were in Computer Science Principles, for which 70% of the participants were male and Psychology, for which 66% of the participants were female.

65% of exams taken by male students were scored at the level of "3" or above, a "passing" score. 61% of the exams taken by females received a "passing" score.


Over 98% of 2017 exams were taken by students who identified as one of the three ethnic groups in the chart below.  78% of exams were taken by white students (includes middle eastern students), while white students represent 77% of the high school population. 11.6% of exams were taken by Asian/Pacific Islander students (5.5% of the population), and 8.4% were taken by Hispanic/Latino students (10.5% pf the population). Less than 1% of exams were taken by Black students, though they represent about 4% of the population, and a significant number are refugee students.

Boise's passing percentages compared with the nation are interesting. Our Asian/Pacific Islander students' passing percentage is about 5% lower than the national percentage, while the percentage for our white students is about the same as the nation. However, while there's a passing percentage gap for Hispanic/Latino students compared with the Total, their overall passing percentage if 11% higher than in the nation as a whole.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018


Here are several interesting articles around the web in the last month that you might enjoy:

More Voucher Research - and It's All Bad

If you have not heard, House Bill 590, the "scholarship" bill that would have ushered in vouchers to the state of Idaho, was held in the Senate Education Committee. Every education stakeholder with the exception of the Charter School Network and Bluum
(essentially the same organization operating under the Albertson Foundation umbrella) opposed the bill, including the Idaho Association of School Administrators, Idaho School Boards Association, Idaho Education Association, and the Idaho Board of Education.

In some form, this bill will likely be back, no matter how bad an idea it represents. But two new articles cast further aspersions on the idea of vouchers. "Congressional legislation seeks to fund school vouchers for military families — despite major opposition from military families" was featured in Valerie Strauss' Answer Sheet blog in the Washington Post. Remember that vouchers for military children were part of Idaho's failed attempt in HB 590.

A new summary of the failure of vouchers around the country comes from the Center for American Progress, and is titled "The Highly Negative Impacts of Vouchers". The article, by Ulrich Boser, Meg Benner, and Erin Roth, highlights the negative impacts of vouchers in Louisiana, Indiana, and Wisconsin, and then adds in the Washington D.C. program's failures. The authors make this remarkable statement:

"How bad are school vouchers for students? Far worse than most people imagine. Indeed, according to the analysis conducted by the authors of this report, the use of school vouchers—which provide families with public dollars to spend on private schools—is equivalent to missing out on more than one-third of a year of classroom learning."

The Upshot: Aging America, Reach of Racism for Black Boys

In "Why Outer Suburbs in the East and Midwest Have Stopped Booming, NY Times Upshot contributor Robert Gebeloff paints a picture of how increasing numbers of suburbs are aging and seeing more deaths than births.

“It is one of the biggest puzzles of my career as a demographer,” said Kenneth Johnson, a sociologist at the University of New Hampshire who has studied the various components of population change for years.  “Each year when new data comes out, I expect to see a significant uptick in births, but I have yet to see it.”

It's interesting to note that we have focused a few times on stagnant kindergarten numbers statewide that have led to stalled overall enrollment.

The Statesman carried this article , but if you missed it, "Extensive Data Shows Punishing
Reach of Racism for Black Boys" is fascinating. Emily Badger, Claire Cain Miller, Adam Pearce, and Kevin Quealy write about the results of a wide-ranging and groundbreaking study led by Stanford economist Raj Chetty. The study itself covers considerably more ground than does the New York Times article, and is definitely worth a read.

From the study summary:

"Among those who grow up in families with comparable incomes, black men grow
up to earn substantially less than the white men. In contrast, black women earn
slightly more than white women conditional on parent income. Moreover, there is

little or no gap in wage rates or hours of work between black and white women."

Generational Analysis from Pew

The Pew Research Center publishes some excellent demographic research. "How Millennials today compare with their grandparents 50 years ago" , by Richard Fry, is a great example. Fry provides information about work habits, education, marital status, service in the military, and urban-rural living status.

For example, here's a screenshot of an interactive chart in the article. You can see that this shot is of ethnic distributins for the generations in 2017. There are a number of other comparisons to view, as well.

Op-Ed on School Choice

Natalie Hopkinson is a Professor at Howard University, and a resident of the District of Columbia. In this HuffPost op-ed entitled "School Choice’ Is A Lie That Harms Us All", she writes about her personal struggle with choice and avoiding D.C public schools, and the realization she has come to about education in America.

She pulls no punches:

"Parents and policymakers need to overcome the collective amnesia that has taken root in our society about the long, sordid story of school choice. So many of the choices that we make, personally and collectively, are about running away from this history. At some point, instead of fleeing and hunting for the next shiny scheme, we have to stay and conquer the inequities and disadvantages that have continued to accumulate in this country.  

If we think we can all outrun it, I have some bad news."

Monday, February 26, 2018


Last week, Representative Vander Woude from Nampa introduced into the House Education Committee House Bill 590, the Guided Education Management Act. The bill proposes setting up a "scholarship fund" by which contributions may be made to a non-profit for the purpose of providing for education needs just about anywhere other than in a public school.  

The bill specifies that students who enroll using the GEM Act shall be from one of four groups:

  1. students who meet the federal free/reduced lunch criteria
  2. students with a disability
  3. at-risk youth
  4. youth whose parents are active-duty military or who were active-duty and were killed in the line of duty.
The Idaho School Boards Association, Idaho Association of School Administrators, and Idaho Education Association recently published a position paper opposing the establishment of voucher or tax credit programs in Idaho, under the headline Private School Vouchers are Wrong for Idaho. Chief among the reasons the authors cited for their opposition were:

  1. Idaho is already 49th in spending for education, and can't afford any further erosion of its support for public education
  2. We need to wait until we see the effect of the new 529 rules in federal tax code, which allow for tax credits for contributions for k-12 private schools
  3. Many requirements for public schools are not applied to private schools:
    1. they admit who they want to admit
    2. they typically do not provide meals, transportation, or special education services, which are hallmarks of equity for students
    3. though the tax credit bill would primarily affect enrollment in urban districts where private schools are located, the consequential tax revenue loss would affect rural districts as well.

This proposal reminds us a bit of the run-up to the Luna Laws. Here are two of the main issues with the proposal:

  1. Voucher programs don't work, just as Pay for Performance and Replacing Teachers with Computers, two of the Luna Laws, were contrived reform mechanisms with no research backing.
  2. If Arizona is any example, the voucher proposal could tear apart the coalition that's been working to improve education since 2011. 
Let's examine these issues a bit more in detail.

Voucher Programs don't work

What we sometimes miss in emotional debates is the research supporting or disputing the merits of the proposed reform. There have been some major research studies done on voucher programs around the nation. The conclusion is that vouchers typically lead to lower achievement among the students that use them to attend private schools.

INDIANA has the largest voucher program in the country, initiated by Governor Mitch Daniels, and continued and expanded by Governor Mike Pence. The state’s program requires that schools which accept voucher students administer standardized assessments, so it was possible for researchers to analyze results. In a large study of academic effects, researchers found that In mathematics, voucher students who transfer to private schools experienced significant losses in achievement.” They also saw no improvement in reading”  (results summarized in a New York Times article).

LOUISIANA implemented a voucher program known as the Louisiana Scholarship Program for students at or below 250% of the federal poverty line in 2011-12. A study by the Education Research Alliance of New Orleans  and another by the Brookings Institute's Mark Dynarski found that students who used the vouchers to enroll in private schools experienced a net loss in achievement over the first two years of the program, though performance improved somewhat in the second year.

OHIO’S voucher program, known as EdChoice, was studied by researchers from the Thomas B.Fordham Foundation, a conservative group that promotes school choice. The researchers found that scores improved for students eligible for the voucher program, but not for those who actually used vouchers to attend private schools.

MILWAUKEE'S voucher program is the oldest in the country. Charlie May reports in Salon about the results of a  Wall Street Journal analysis of the data (sorry, the whole story is behind a paywall) which sparked the article's title, "Milwaukee proves that private school vouchers don’t make much of a difference".

With the research largely showing lower achievement for voucher recipients, it's hard to understand why this type of choice is considered a good idea.

The Post Luna Laws Coalition - Will it Break Apart?

Arizona is kind of a mess right now. A tax credit bill remarkably similar to Idaho's proposal passed there last year, and now voucher proponents in the legislature and the Governor's office want to expand it. But an organization known as Save our Schools Arizona  collected over 110, 000 signatures to defer proposed legislation to a ballot measure. The Arizona Governor, Doug Ducey,  noted that he does not plan to play "small ball" on his voucher program to a Koch sponsored gathering in California in January.  Is this ringing a bell for those of you who were here in 2011? 

Since the repeal of the Luna Laws in 2012, parties from across the spectrum have forged a coalition which has supported public education. The K-12 Task Force, commissioned by Governor Otter, made a number of recommendations, many of which have been implemented. Among the achievements have been:

  1. Monumental Career Ladder legislation which has increased salaries while holding districts accountable for teacher evaluations.
  2. Leadership stipends that have made a huge difference in the ability of districts to compensate employees for extra duties involving governance of schools.
  3. Advanced Opportunities programs for students to take college coursework while in high school, whether it be Advanced Placement or Dual Credit.
  4. Fostering educator involvement in committees sponsored by the State Board of Education and the State Department of Education.
  5. Strengthening of support for Career Technical Education programs around the state.
There are many other achievements, along with a lot more work to be done. We have yet to find the answers to Idaho's low Go On rate, for example. But stakeholders are working together to find solutions, something that was not happening only a few years ago. 

Is there potential for that coalition to break apart over the voucher issue? We think there is, and quite frankly, we are worried that this issue will provide the spark for another fracture in Idaho's education system. And we don't want to see that happen.