Is it too late for a state to dream big? If everything goes to plan this legislative session, Idaho will make a significant achievement: 2009!
During his State of the State address Monday, Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter called for an increase in per-classroom funding. It’s an ambitious proposal. However, if passed, those funding levels will only be the same as they were in 2009.
- Miley Cyrus was still Hannah Montana
- Blockbuster was still in business
- Michael Jackson was still alive
- Jon and Kate Gosselin were still married
- Sarah Palin was still Alaska’s governor
What price have Idaho’s students paid?
- Only 77 percent of high school students graduate on time (ninth worst in the nation)
- Only 52 percent of high school graduates go on to college (that number is dropping)
- Idaho received a D-plus for K-12 education from Education Weekly (48th out of 50 states and D.C.)
- Idaho’s 2015 SAT math scores dropped a whopping 10 points from 2014 (drops in 14 of 15 largest school districts)
- Idaho student’s average SAT score is 147 points below a college-ready score
It’s fantastic that Otter wants to invest in education. However, the massive cuts to public education during the Great Recession make his proposals less generous than they sound. In fact, the effect of inflation and an influx of new students (Idaho’s one of the fastest growing states in the U.S.) means Otter’s proposal actually leaves per-classroom funding below 2009 levels.
What’s the collateral damage?
- 94 of the state’s 115 school districts require supplemental levies to operate (it’s trending upward)
- Idaho taxpayers have taxed themselves more than $1 billion in levies to backfill shortfalls during Gov. Otter’s tenure
- The Lewiston High School was built in 1928 (good luck finding outlets)
- Idaho has 43 school districts on a four-day week
- Four-day district test scores are lagging behind statewide averages
Should we party like it’s 2009?
Sure. Go for it. Why not. If Otter’s budget is passed, Idaho could reach an incredible milestone — 2009, here we come.