The ratings and student performance facts I cited during this campaign have been challenged by my opponents and some in the media. As a teacher, I will say, “Do your homework!”
One editorial office recently stated that I “overestimate the success of Idaho schools by using statistics that do not have proper support”. This seems to echo the views of one of my opponents, who has publicly stated that she “could not find” the statistics I mention.
Our national rankings are listed in our latest Infographics of educational outcomes, come from national information and education organizations including Education Week, US News and World Report, National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships and ACT College and Career Partnerships. And these rankings are based on how students perform nationally rated grades. These are Idaho student assessment data. There is nothing “vague” in this.
It is no exaggeration to say that Idaho has made impressive strides in education, and the statistics I cite clearly demonstrate how student performance in Idaho has improved under my leadership. These successes are also the result of a joint effort between my State Department of Education, the Governor’s Office and the Legislature. Some highlights:
- 218,000 college credits earned by Idaho students while attending high school last year;
- № 1 in the national ranking of the share of secondary school students enrolled in higher education courses;
- № 17 in the national ranking of student achievement among all 50 states and Washington (from 31st place in 2016); and
- № 2 in the ranking of student achievement among six neighboring states.
I agree that we need a “clear, unconcerned view” of the challenges facing Idaho education as well as achievement. I have this opinion, thanks to two decades of work as teachers and district administrators of Idaho and almost eight years as head of public education.
I know there’s more to come, and I have a lot of faith in my fellow educators as well as Idaho students and families to solve our problems and elevate our accomplishments to new heights. And importantly, I have a fantastic team at the State Department of Education that helps schools and students succeed.
And to those who claim that my teaching experience is not a “critical part” in the management of the education department, I strongly disagree. The experience of leading one opponent in the State Board of Education – seven years as a member, the last two as president – is by no means comparable, and she cannot claim a record of success. My other opponent’s claim that the legislature means more than experience as a K-12 educator is ridiculous.
I came to the position on the heels of a foreman who had no experience as a tutor. He was a former school board chairman with great ideas for change, but no teacher experience and a clear understanding or respect for the profession. He survived attempts to recall, but his initiatives to reform education were strongly rejected by voters. Morality in schools and districts across Idaho has plummeted.
When I took office in 2015, my first job was to change the culture at the State Department of Education to blame and disgrace educators for a culture of support, service and collaboration. This culture, one of my most proud accomplishments, has come a long way toward improving Idaho’s education and student outcomes.
I love your job and I ask for your continued support as we make every effort to transfer Idaho’s student achievements to the top 10 in the country. Please vote for Gray at the May 17 primaries!
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