The Disadvantages of Growing up in Idaho

News release from the Idaho Democratic Legislative Caucus

Date: Monday, October 24, 2011
Contact: Representative John Rusche (208) 750-6048 or Senator Edgar Malepeai (208) 251-9517

The Disadvantages of Growing up in Idaho
The “Race to the Top” deadline has come and gone and Idaho remains among the few states in the nation without a publicly funded early childhood education program or hope for the future. The Governor’s office had previously notified the U.S. Department of Education that they would be applying for the program but State Superintendent Luna had different plans. Today, 66% of all Idaho children under five are in some kind of early childhood program and yet there are very few controls or monitoring systems to track quality, progress and success. 
The “Race to the Top Early Learning Grant” was designed to give states underperforming in that area money that they can use to create a sustainable, streamlined early childhood development plan. Funding opportunities like those provided by “Race to the Top” would educate a generation of our state’s young people who could grow up to return that investment to Idaho’s economy.  House Minority Leader John Rusche said, “Luna has disadvantaged young Idahoans and their families.  This money could have been used for programs like training, systems development, or even pre-K classrooms.  Instead we will have done little to improve the likelihood of Idaho’s children succeeding in k-12 education and proceeding on to college or other needed post-secondary education.  Not only we will not reap the benefits that have been proven in study after study, we will pay for this lack of vision in limited employment opportunities, lower wages and tax revenue, and increased family instability.” 

Senate Minority Leader Edgar Malepeai said, “A direct correlation exists between educational success and economic success. If Idaho wants to grow jobs and the economy, we must invest in education at all levels.  If Idaho kids are like kids elsewhere (and there is no reason to expect otherwise), we will be a generation behind the rest of the country and the world in developing 21st century workers by continuing to put our young people at a disadvantage.”

With “Race to the Top” no longer an option for Idaho, it is imperative that GOP leaders begin working with Educators and Legislators from both sides to address the needs of Idaho’s children.  If we don’t work together now, the future generations of Idaho’s children will pay the price.

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