There is no more important role for our State than to prepare our citizens for the future. That is why public education is so prominent in our State Constitution and is our biggest State expense.
After the tumultuous time of the Great Recession and the “Luna Laws (“Students Come First”), I believe we have made progress in public schools. But there are still some real holes to fill. And we have a lot to do for post-secondary education.
- The “Luna Laws” caused massive uproar, anger, and debate, and a voter repeal of those legislative actions. Fortunately, a more collaborative approach followed.As we near the end of the “five year plan”, it is very important to continue a collaborative approach, relying on the experience of master teachers and the data on what works. Ignoring science because it doesn’t fit a political position only harms or kids and their future.
- Funding has not always followed the vision, however. As the student population of Idaho grows, appropriations need to keep pace.Being lowest in cost in the nation is not a good thing.
- As a children’s physician, I know early education is critically important. Parents are kid’s first teachers, and help should be available to help them do a good job. Pre-K early education programs are of proven value in helping at risk kids learn and prevent them from falling behind. Investments in early education are smart.
- The low rate of Idaho students that “go on” to higher education after high school–both baccalaureate and technical classes–needs improvement. “Baby steps” were made last session, and I think the Governor and Legislature now realize that the future workers and taxpayers of Idaho are being trained now. Tuitions should not rise beyond affordability, but it has become the consistent barrier mentioned for middle class families. Accelerating tuition costs has hurt–families in a low-income state cannot afford tuition increases of 6-10% year after year when incomes remain flat.