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Making the Grade: Go On and Superintendent's Race

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Photo: Video by IdahoOnYourSide.com

Making the Grade: Go On and Superintendent's Race

By www.idahoonyourside.com. CREATED Aug 6, 2014

Idaho high schoolers are apparently still not "going on" to college, even after the major "Go On" campaign. Plus, a surprise endorsement across party lines in the state superintendent's race. Michelle Edmonds talks with Idaho Education News reporter Kevin Richert about those two major topics in this week's Making the Grade.

Here is a transcript of their conversation:

MICHELLE: Kevin's back for Making the Grade, it's been a busy week for you than expected.

KEGIN: Yes, yes it's picking up.

It's because the Idaho Association of School Administrators, they're meeting in Boise this week, about 450 administrators coming together from school district all over the place and they invited the two superintendent candidates... Superintendent of Public Instruction...to come and speak to them... only one showed up.

MICHELLE: What happened?

KEVIN: Okay, so what happened was Jana Jones, the Democratic candidate. she addressed the group for about half an hour on monday. The ISAS, which is this umbrella group, it's school superintendents and administrators from all over the state. They invited Jana Jones, they also invited Sherri Ybarra, the Republican nominee. She (Ybarra) did not attend, she said that her schedule is too busy. As it turned out, our editor saw Sherri Ybarra in Boise on Monday morning. She was actually meeting a legislator for a coffee that day to kind of get to know what one of the legislators... she was in town but she said that she was too busy to attend. Today she issued a press release and she will attend another meeting of superintendents tomorrow. This one is put on by the state Department of Education, a briefing on various issues that are going to be coming up this school year. she's going to attend that...she's going to sit in on the session. she says she's going to talk one to one with superintendents. we will see if that kind is smooth out of some ruffled feathers.

MICHELLE: Well there are some ruffled feathers, in fact the person who won during this conference, the state superintendent of the year, the Bonneville superintendent, has chosen an endorsement across his partyline.

KEVIN: Yes, Chuck Shackett, it is the superintendent in Bonneville. That name doesn't mean much people in this part of the state, he is fairly influential as the district superintendent and like you say he was named the superintendent of the year. Political backstory on Chuck Shackett, he was an outspoken supporter of propositions one two and three. He endorsed Andy Grover, the superintendent from Melba back in the Republican primary, so his GOP credentials are fairly strong. He knows Jana Jones from a few years back as they're both from Eastern Idaho. He actually tried to hire Jana Jones into his district a few years back so he knows Jones. He trusts Jones. He's willing to endorse Jones, he's never met Sherri Ybarra, and that kind of comes across when I talked to him...a little bit of hard feelings that Ybarra didn't show up this week.

MICHELLE: Let me change subjects on you a little bit, um...you were doing some reporting a little bit earlier this week as well on the “Go On” numbers. Of course, this is the movement... mostly by the Albertson Foundation in order to get high school students to go on to college so that we can increase the number of students who are going to college in our state...which is really low. What are the new numbers that have come out? What did you find?

KEVINL The new numbers came out and they aren't very good. Basically what found out about this...about this class of 2013,.so we're talking about the kids who walk down the aisle got there diplomas in may of 2013. Of that group, about 52% have enrolled in a two year or four-year college. That number is down slightly from where we were in 2012. The class of 2012 is about a 54% figure. Now these figures have a lot of asterisks to them, I mean it's a snapshot in time. Kids from the class of 2013, they could still obviously they can still enroll and that will change the numbers. if they decided to go back to school...they've worked a year, saved some money they want to go to school. they would then start to show up in those numbers. If a kid has served a church mission and comes back and goes to school that changes the numbers. If a graduate serves in the military...so you've got a lot of variables. The point is, the numbers are flat to maybe even decreasing and they are a long way from where the state wants to go.

MICHELLE: We've only got a couple of seconds left, is there a way to fix the problem quickly?

KEVIN: No there isn't, and I think that's what the numbers showed me. The State Board of Education wants to see 80% of high school graduates in college within a year. That's the long-term goal. only three school districts and three charter schools met thatt eighty percent goal... and we're talking about less than one percent of the kids in the state.

MICHELLE: That is a long ways away.

KEVIN: Yes.

MICHELLE: We'll be on that story we continue to follow it. Kevin, as always, thank you for Making the Grade. If you'd like to read much more about what Kevin and everybody over Idaho Education News are writing about, just go to idahoednews.org. Kevin. thanks again.

KEVIN: Thank you.