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Idaho’s education policies and goals are not aligned

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Idaho’s education policies and goals are not aligned

Now the main articles on education concern critical theory of race, school choice, LGBT ideology, and especially in Idaho: parental rights. Each of them is an important debate that occupies an important place in public discourse. But the emphasis on these emotionally charged subjects has forced them to completely obscure the fundamental problem: there is a serious gap between Idaho’s educational policy and the state’s goals.

The goal of Idaho since 2010 had to cover 60% of the adult population aged 25-34 to have some kind of secondary education. To achieve this goal, the state has tried to increase the “continuation” rate or the percentage of high school graduates who continue to study at a public college next fall. This effort came to mind four areas: student achievement tests, college scholarships, college and career counselors, and additional opportunities. Each area is designed to make secondary education more accessible to students, especially by lowering the financial barrier to college.

Of course, it is expensive, worth it well over $ 100 million over the past few years. And of these four areas, enhanced opportunities are seen greatest growth. The cost in the 2016-2017 school year was expected to be $ 5.5 million, but was $ 11.7 million. In 2018-2019, the cost was $ 19.25 million per year. This money allows students like me to attend college courses back in high school and look for other opportunities for high school education.

Logically, this plan makes sense. To increase the number of adults who have completed secondary education, especially college, the state should make it easier for students on this path. This can be done if you start your student career in college early. Unfortunately, after several years of existence of these programs progress in achieving the 60% goal and increasing the rate of continuation remained.

This situation begs the question: why is Idaho not moving toward its goals when it is spending more and more money on these programs? The answer is simple, but at the same time elusive. Because all that is required is the realization that this money is mostly used by students like me who have always planned to go to college. That’s where the demand for funding comes from. These programs do not persuade students who do not plan to pursue secondary education to enroll in college.

Of course, we still have the question: what should we do about it? This is a question that continued to baffle me and all the adults involved in my research. The beginnings of the response began in November 2021, when I interviewed Kevin Richert as part of his research work. During our discussion, I asked Mr. Richert why, in his opinion, these programs do not attract students from a more disadvantaged position to whom they should help.

Mr. Richert began his answer by agreeing that this was an important question on which he was also working. Because if you are already planning to go to college, it makes sense to take a lot of these loans at a price covered by the state. He doesn’t say it’s bad, but assures that it helps students who are already prepared for college, rather than convincing students who don’t want to go to college to “go on”.

Partly thanks to our discussion and talking to my high school classmates, I came to the conclusion that Idaho’s methods for achieving the 60% goal and increasing the “continuation” rate are not consistent. This is because most students who do not plan to continue their studies after high school are not convinced by those who encourage them to enter college.

The next step for Idaho is to focus on improving high school education so students can reach the point where they want to take advantage of programs like Advanced Opportunities. Idaho it’s time to stop trying to use secondary education to fill gaps in public high schools, stop leaving high school students behind. Convincing students of the value of education should be a top priority in Idaho education.

About Evan Higby

Evan Higby is a senior at Kimberley High School. Evan has been a member of the National Speech and Debate Association and Business Professionals of America for four years, competing among citizens in informative and event speech respectively.

Read more stories by Evan Higby »

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