Last summer I worked a bit with the people who developed the website NextSteps Idaho. I found it was a good resource for lots of information even if you weren’t the target audience (Idaho residents).
For example, here is a fun page where you can imagine your best life and see what it takes to maintain your chosen lifestyle. Create different scenarios and see how it affects the bottom line.
I find it helpful for my audience to check in with reality. Maybe internet cost is not something one would think of when designing a sustainable income. We think of rent and food and car, but what about clothes, entertainment, or — children?
I admit this page is geared toward Idahoans, but many of the other pages (especially the aptitude sections) are free, fun, and full of awesome info. Perhaps I’ll get a chance to highlight some of those in future.
I’ve been reading so many books since my last reviews. Where to start?
For a book that will make you think, — try “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain. Ok, maybe that describes most librarians, but I found deep thought around this topic and plenty of balm for my guilt for not being more… what? — outgoing? boisterous? charismatic? humorous?
Why can’t the world see that some just need a little space once in a while? There’s nothing wrong with that. If you agree (and even if you don’t), “Quiet” will convince you that if you’re wired such that you enjoy alone time, there is reason to create that space and hang on to it.
I’m still talking about Seraphina when asked about what I’ve read this year, though I finished it several months ago. It was outstanding to me on multiple levels. I made a list of what I found in the book.
Well as you can see, it made me think on several levels. I mostly agree with this review. It’s a bit long, but very accurate as to how I experienced the book. (True confession: I read both books and agree with their take on the second book too.)
A big part of this review is the expansion on Rachel Hartman’s ability to portray Seraphina’s mind work — what’s going on in her head. This is a fascinating aspect to the book and raises it above normal for this genre in my estimation.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: Over the next year, Idaho Education News will provide in-depth, ongoing coverage of the challenges facing higher education during the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s our latest installment in this project.)
For now, board members kept the ballyhooed yet elusive postsecondary education goal in the State Board’s strategic plan. But they aren’t wild about it.
“It’s been a joke in many ways,” board member Emma Atchley said Wednesday.
Just four years ago, Atchley told lawmakers that the 60 percent goal was not “just a trite campaign slogan,” but an essential target for the state’s economy and for the state’s young adults. Atchley was outnumbered Wednesday, as the board voted 6-2 to leave the 60 percent goal intact. But times and sentiments have changed.
Some State Board members are over the 60 percent goal, because they think they have no control over it. But it’s been a long time getting to this point. Since 2010, Idaho leaders have said they want 60 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds to hold a college degree or a professional certificate. The mission is to train and retain a young and skilled work force.
But instead of measuring what the colleges and universities actually do — such as awarding degrees — a 60 percent threshold only measures demographics, board member Linda Clark said Wednesday. “It depends on who comes into the state, who goes out of the state, what degrees they have, what certificates they have.”
That’s a fair point. But board member Andrew Scoggin pushed back against Clark’s suggestion that the board has no control over the 60 percent goal. Scoggin noted that, after all, the State Board has four four-year schools and four two-year colleges under its jurisdiction.
Now, let’s run the numbers.
In 2019, 44 percent of Idaho’s young adults held a college degree or professional certificate. That represents progress, after Idaho had been stuck at 42 percent for four successive years. When Idaho adopted this postsecondary completion goal in 2010, the state was sitting at a 37 percent rate.
It wouldn’t be fair or accurate to say that Idaho has made no progress.
But a little healthy skepticism is in order. Instead of moving the goalpost, is the State Board just ripping the goalpost right out of the turf?
On Wednesday, Atchley sounded tired of being bludgeoned over Idaho’s failure to approach the 60 percent goal. Other board members have made similar statements in the past. And as she sat in on Wednesday’s virtual board meeting, Lewis-Clark State College President Cynthia Pemberton said the state’s “north star” education goal is oftentimes problematic.
“The lived reality of that, for us on our campuses, is that it’s often used as a P.R. punishment for what we are not able to accomplish,” Pemberton said.
No, the 60 percent goal isn’t easy. It hasn’t been easy anywhere.
The Indianapolis-based Lumina Foundation has made a national 60 percent completion goal a priority, tracking mixed results at the state level. Unlike Idaho, Lumina tracks postsecondary completion for all adults, aged 25 to 64, but the numbers are still worth noting. In 2018, 51 percent of the nation’s adults held a degree or certificate. Only the District of Columbia and Massachusetts cleared the 60 percent threshold. Only five states ranked lower than Idaho.
The cold truth is that it takes years and money for education policy to affect a postsecondary completion number. Idaho poured at least $133 million into programs to support the 60 percent goal, according to a 2018 Idaho Education News analysis. The spending hasn’t slowed since then. This year, Idaho is spending $20 million on an advanced opportunities program to cover college-level dual-credit classes, and $19.7 million on the college Opportunity Scholarship.
When they put millions of dollars into dual-credit classes for high school students or scholarships for college students, Idaho’s leaders are hoping those investments pay off years down the road, when today’s students are tomorrow’s employees. That’s the hope, anyway. And as Clark accurately points out, it’s not a sure thing.
Little’s newest State Board members didn’t choose this goal, and nor did recently hired college and university presidents such as Pemberton. But they inherited it, and the scrutiny that comes with it.
And that scrutiny comes because the state is facing two serious and interconnected challenges: convincing high school graduates to continue their education, and aligning young workers’ skills to the labor market.
Changing the goalpost doesn’t change that reality.
Each week, Kevin Richert writes an analysis on education policy and education politics. Look for it every Thursday.