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### Embracing Change: Opponents of Educational Transformation Stand Against Progress

I recently received an invitation to speak at the City Club in Boise regarding education policy and the ongoing discussions in the current Idaho legislative session. Anticipating a predominantly education-focused audience, I understood that the atmosphere might be somewhat adversarial. Nevertheless, Mountain States Policy Center is committed to presenting a free market perspective in any setting, fostering constructive dialogues and debates on the validity of various ideas. While disagreements may arise, our approach is rooted in mutual respect.

Unsurprisingly, the concepts I shared on educational innovations were met with a cool reception. I highlighted the challenges faced by my own family and numerous others when confined to educational settings that may not offer the necessary opportunities for success. Supported by written evidence and a compilation of over 180 studies, I emphasized how education choice can significantly impact children’s success.

I emphasized that education choice encompasses a comprehensive range of options, including traditional public schools, charter schools, magnet schools, micro-schools, homeschooling, and more. I encouraged attendees to reconsider how we define success for every child, advocating for reforms and a uniquely Idahoan approach that upholds the importance of public schools while expanding choices for families in need.

Furthermore, I proposed facilitating parental access to comparative school district budgets through the Public School Transparency Act. By the end of the forum, the initial chill in the air had transformed into a deep freeze, with the prevailing sentiment being that public schools simply required increased funding.

Observing the reactions of the audience, I couldn’t help but draw one clear conclusion: the individuals present represented the past of education, not its future.

The status quo is not immutable. Visionary education leaders exist nationwide, eager to experiment with new strategies to enhance educational outcomes for children. They recognize that the digital age necessitates a departure from antiquated approaches, understanding that the solution extends beyond injecting additional funds into the existing system.

Can we identify such leaders within our state?

The issue of educational opportunity stands as one of the paramount civil rights challenges of our era. Public opinion reflects widespread bipartisan and demographic backing for this cause.

Notably, robust backing emanates from minority communities and younger demographics. For instance, a Morning Consult survey revealed that 78% of black parents endorse Education Savings Accounts, with a mere eight percent in opposition.

In a recent poll, nearly 90% of black mothers expressed skepticism regarding the adequacy of the traditional public school model in meeting students’ needs.

Termed the “school choice generation,” millennials exhibit strong support for education alternatives, with 68% overall backing and Latino support peaking at 75%, as indicated by Beck Research polling.

Interestingly, opposition to change or expanded choices predominantly stems from older white demographics, akin to the audience I faced.

A former Superintendent of the Madison School District derisively labeled education choice initiatives as “yacht vouchers,” echoing disparaging sentiments echoed by other education figures in our state.

Meanwhile, parents, young individuals, and minorities are clamoring for reforms that can benefit all children.

The nation’s future is primed for transformation, irrespective of the education establishment’s stance. Those who disregard the call for innovation and options risk censure by history.

Chris Cargill

President of Mountain States Policy Center, an independent research organization spanning Idaho, Montana, Washington, and Wyoming. Online at [Chris Cargill headshot 2023].