| 03.20.2018

State funding failure — Prominent Idaho candidates do not share enthusiasm when it comes to education


I’ve attended Idaho schools my entire life. The people of Idaho have funded my education from elementary school through high school, and continue to do so today as I attend the University of Idaho.

Although higher education institutions continue to have funding difficulties, the lack of resources hits much harder at the lower echelons of the Idaho
education system.

As a student in Grangeville, Idaho, I watched as students were forced to use — and sometimes share –20-year-old textbooks with no hope of getting new ones. In the few classes that provided lab opportunities, materials were heavily rationed and the equipment was even older than the textbooks. Which was cool, because I had the rare opportunity to use the exact same Erlenmeyer flasks, graduated cylinders and Bunsen burners my grandfather used in the 1960s.

This sad situation was always the elephant in the room, and a fact frequently bemoaned
by everybody.

Community members, faculty, parents and even some students frequently spoke out against Idaho’s less than
stellar funding.

Funding which, according to the Idaho Center of Fiscal Policy, has decreased significantly in the last 30 years, and has forced the community to turn to supplemental levies for funding.

For example, the Idaho CFP reported in 1980 that 32.5 percent of state spending went to public schools, but that number has decreased significantly since.

In 2013, it sat at 26.4 percent. Coincidentally, in 2000 just over 40 school districts in Idaho required supplemental levies, which creates a faceoff between local property tax increases and education funding. In 2012, the number of districts reliant on supplemental levies was over 80.

I watched people in Grangeville take significant tax increases to keep multiple teachers employed and extracurricular activities intact. The same situation plays out in communities all over the state.

Yet along with these alarming trends, I’ve seen something else which is just
as disheartening.

The same people who made sacrifices for higher quality education continually undo any progress made in the ballot box election after election. A new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows a 36.8 percent cut to higher education funding in the state since 2008.

This issue should be an incredibly personal one for every student in Idaho.

Idaho education has slowly eroded over the last decade, while Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter fruitlessly tried to stop the nosedive. Right by his side has been the Idaho Legislature, which includes one of his primary opponents Russ Fulcher. This bunch has followed Otter’s every step on the incredibly elusive path to education reform.

Education is an essential issue in Idaho, and one which brings out passionate people. Idaho’s elected officials have been failing the state’s students and their constituents for far too long. It’s something that effects people of all ages from all corners of the state and it’s time state officials took meaningful steps to alleviate the problem.

Justin Ackerman 

can be reached at 


Related Posts
No comments

There are currently no comments to show.