Idaho businesses have long complained that the states education system doesnt produce work-ready employees.
Now businesses, along with educators, lawmakers, parents and others, are gathered at the Capitol table to chart a course for Idaho education reform in the aftermath of state schools chief Tom Lunas Students Come First plans. Voters in November rejected laws covering teacher merit pay, collective bargaining, classroom technology and college credits for students.
Alex LaBeau, president of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, is at that table. He brought businesss message as Gov. Butch Otters Task Force for Improving Education met for the first time this month. Bob Lokken, founder of White Cloud Analytics and a member of Idaho Business for Education, also serves on the task force. Parents, teachers, administrators and other education interests dominate the group.
So far, LaBeau likes what he sees.
What pleases me the most is that while we may speak different languages, it appears to me everybody was intent on the concept of improvements, he says.
He says the group seems willing to look at ways to assess Idahos educational system. That means assessing student performance, educators, principals and school boards.
A theme developed that appealed to LaBeau: Education is more than a teacher putting knowledge into a childs head. It requires building effective schools and recognizing that one prescription may not be right for all schools.
There was a lot of discussion over how we are going to evaluate and make improvements, he says. Its not just hitting the baseline targets.
The hard part, of course, is still to come. I think there is wide diversity in how we get from point A to point B, LaBeau says. He says that will require a lot of listening.
Bill Roberts 377-6408