| 03.18.2018

New curriculum, new controversy — Idaho changes education curriculum in an attempt to help struggling students, sparks state wide debate


Education has always been an  issue in Idaho, and for good reason. Each year, the states are ranked on their performance in education, and Idaho falls in 48th place, or 49th, or 50th depending on which metric you decide to use.  Obviously,  something needs to be done. Different reforms have passed through the state with varying amounts of success and support. 

In 2011, Idaho adopted Common Core Curriculum, which was brought to Idaho classrooms during the 2013-2014 school year. Common Core seeks to change the way children are taught, focusing on method and theory as opposed to memorization. These changes are hard to make and require more in depth testing, but they could  change Idaho education for the better.

According to Tom Luna, Idaho’s superintendent of public instruction, the goal behind adopting Common Core is to ensure Idaho students are ready for both college and the work place without remediation. It is a noble pursuit and one which state officials, teachers, parents and even students have been working towards for years now.

Despite the changes and potential, many Idahoans are opposed to Common Core. Even before it reached schools, opposition began. Facebook groups were created, blogs were made and opinions were posted. Letters to the editor appeared across the state and are still rolling in today.

Many of the complaints seem unfounded and are simply political nonsense. Idaho’s adoption of Common Core does not give Obama the ability to indoctrinate children, and it will not destroy the education system as we know it. Idaho’s education system needs improvement, and fighting change  is not going to help narrow the  gap Idaho students  are faced with. Education is not mathematics —  it isn’t cut and dry and it isn’t the same for everyone.

Fixing the problems Idaho  faces is going to take  experimentation, new ideas and some well thought out changes to solve. The Common Core has worked for states like Massachusetts and Maryland —  maybe we should give it a chance  in Idaho.

Massachusetts and Maryland are generally found in the top two of the very same rankings that Idaho sits at the bottom of.

If it’s good enough for the best, it should be good enough for the worst. Politicizing education seems to be popular in Idaho, but it comes at the cost of our children.

Common Core won’t be the end  of education reform in the state. It won’t sweep in and solve every single problem in every single school district. It won’t please every teacher and it won’t make every parent happy. However, nothing will.

The fact  is, there is no way to tell until we try. It’s time to start trying and stop making education in Idaho a right vs. left issue.

Justin Ackerman can be reached at arg-opinion@uidaho.edu

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