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MAKING THE GRADE: Idaho misses education benchmarks and the Boise State bathroom dispute

Posted at 1:54 PM, Oct 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-09 15:54:29-04

BOISE, Idaho — Michelle Edmonds and Idaho Education News reporter, Kevin Richert, take a look at this week's hottest education topics in Making the Grade.

For the second consecutive year, Idaho missed all of its yearly benchmarks in math and English for vulnerable student populations.

Idaho missed all 22 of the math and English language arts interim targets that state leaders identified in the consolidated state plan to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, according to data released by the State Department of Education.

Idaho schools missed English and math goals for the “all students” categories as well as goals tied to vulnerable student populations, including Hispanics and Latinos, students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged students and Black students.

“It’s a very big concern,” said State Board of Education member Linda Clark. “We, as a Board, are committed and want to make sure the districts and classrooms have the kind of resources they need.”

The numbers show that Idaho is failing in its goals to reduce the percent of at-risk students and minorities who don’t score proficient or better. In most cases, the gaps are getting wider between the goals and actual achievement.

Meanwhile, a second conservative legislator is pushing colleagues to defund Boise State University.

Decrying what he calls President Marlene Tromp’s “atrocious leftist agenda,” Rep. Chad Christensen, R-Ammon, posted a photo on his campaign Facebook page of a gender-neutral restroom at Boise State.

Christensen wrote, in part: “There are two toilet stalls, a urinal, plenty of tampons/pads, and a sink. I wasn’t aware that Idaho taxpayers also paid for tampons and pads. … I have had it with this immoral garbage. Yes, this is going on in an Idaho university! Does this not encourage sexual assaults? Does this not set up men and women for false accusations?”

Not surprisingly, the response has been sharply divided.

Christensen’s Facebook post has generated more than 400 comments since Friday — with some commenters supporting Christensen’s push to defund the state’s largest university, and others mocking the first-term lawmaker.

“People pee! People get their periods!” said one commenter. “Has no one ever explained this phenomenon to you? Maybe you should go to college and learn about it.”

The controversy has its own Twitter hashtag: #padsformadchad.

In another wrinkle in the search for two new State Board of Education appointees, Gov. Brad Little offered a spot to a veteran Lewiston school trustee in August.

But Brad Rice turned down the governor’s invite.

Brad RiceRice publicly discussed the offer during an Aug. 19 assembly at Lewiston High School, covered by Justyna Tomtas of the Lewiston Tribune. Marty Trillhaase, the Tribune’s editorial writer, referenced the exchange in an editorial this week.

Why did Rice say no?

“One of the paramount reasons for me is we are not done here yet. I love this district, what we do for kids and the progress we’ve made,” Rice said, according to Tomtas’ report. “This year and the following year might be two of the most exciting years ever in this district, and I want to be a part of it.”

Rice has been on the Lewiston school board for nine years, including six years as president, Tomtas reported.

If you'd like to check out last week's Making the Grade, click here.