How Bold Leadership and Accountability Can Prepare Idaho for the Future

How bold leadership and accountability can prepare Idaho for the future.

Prepared for The
Idaho State Legislature



The storyline that the quality of public education in Idaho comes up short is not new. We are at risk. When it comes to education, Idaho lags behind the rest of the country nearly every step of the way, despite the strong efforts and good intentions of Idaho’s educators and students. In contrast, the economic environment we live in is new, and radically so. The rapid pace of technological change and a long-term trend toward national improvements in education have thrust a new economy upon us, one in which raw effort and hard work can no longer serve as a substitute for a strong education. Our new economy rewards the highly skilled—those who can best navigate the pace of innovation—while it replaces lower-skilled labor with technology. The end result is that the highly educated stand to benefit greatly, while the lesser skilled fall further behind. In 2019, a subpar K-12 education poses major obstacles to economic mobility and, if Idaho’s educational system fails to adapt to our new economic realities, we will be imposing such obstacles on a large portion of young Idahoans. Idaho is at risk. Left unchanged, our educational system will leave Idaho’s next generation ill-prepared, with limited opportunities and a low standard of living. Idaho, as a state, will suffer the negative social, health, and economic outcomes that stem from lower levels of educational attainment. Bold leadership and accountability in education are needed now more than ever. Our future depends on it.


Six Considerations


#1 Focus on Outcomes.


#2 Implement Data-Driven Strategies.


#3 Leverage State Income Growth to Increase School Funding and Make it More Equitable.


#4 Enable Local Control and Individual Choice.


#5 Increase Support and Accountability for Superintendents, Principals, Teachers, and School Boards.


#6 Promote an Educational System That is Agile.