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Parent, public voice crucial to drive lasting change

Director’s Corner | Roger Quarles

Executive Director, J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation

In my experience as an educator at the local and state levels, a parent and now the executive director of the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation, I have always embraced the crucial ingredient that drives lasting change in Idaho’s education system: The voice and energy of the public and parents.

For that reason, we commissioned The People’s Review of Education in Idaho, a survey which asked 1,000 randomly chosen Idaho taxpayers what they value in their public education system.

Nobody does this work better than the nonpartisan FDR Group, led by expert analysts Steve Farkas and Ann Duffett, who have a combined 45 years of experience in opinion research and social policy.

Among the 50 questions they asked were:

• Is teacher quality or students’ own effort and motivation key to success in school?
• Can all students learn?
• Would Idahoans recommend their own local schools to others?
• How important is the role of real-world learning experiences such as internships?
• What are the most important subjects our schools should be teaching?
• Should Idaho kids be held to state and/or national standards?
• Are our kids getting what they need to succeed in life and work?

The Albertson family provides incredible philanthropy to our state because of the successes Joe and Kathryn Albertson realized after founding and growing the Albertsons grocery store chain. It would have been impossible to achieve this success without listening to their customers.

Just like Joe and Kathryn, it’s imperative the education system — recipient of the largest piece of the state’s expenditure pie — listen to its customers and most precious resource: our children and their future.

We are grateful to the many Idahoans who participated in in-person conversations in late summer to help Farkas and Duffett learn about recent education developments in our state. The pair outlined issues flagged as especially important to probe. Farkas and Duffett had complete freedom in designing and conducting the survey (and the four focus groups that proceeded it), just as they had complete editorial freedom in formulating the findings and the report.

In terms of methodology, we have the utmost respect for their integrity, accuracy and professionalism, as well as their expertise.

Highlights of the 50-question survey can be reviewed here. The full report, including all questions, methodology and results will be released in early 2016.

The annual survey will provide a year-after-year measurement of how we’re doing in working toward what we value as a state.

Everyone in Idaho who wants public education to succeed should pay attention. While there is profound frustration, there is also opportunity for leaders to improve. We hope The People’s Review of Education in Idaho helps everyone create the future our children deserve.