Archive for the ‘The Coalition’ Category


Studies show that more than 60 percent of the jobs will require post-secondary education by the year 2018. Yet less than 40 percent of Idahoans currently have a post-secondary certificate or degree. If we don’t narrow that gap, we will not have the educated and skilled workforce we need to help Idaho’s economy grow.

Unfortunately, Idaho is not moving in the right direction.


Only 46 percent of the 2013 high school graduating class enrolled in any two- or four-year college in the fall of last year. Even those who enroll have a high drop-out rate, largely because they are ill-prepared for the rigorous of college course work.

The Idaho Core Standards raise the bar for what Idaho’s students learn in math and English. They better prepare them for the rigors of post-secondary education. In short, the Standards set our young people up for success in school, work and life.

There is an urgency to get more young people to graduate from high school and obtain a post-secondary credential. 2018 is only four years away. Nothing less than the economic vitality and the quality of life in our great state are at stake if we don’t have qualified workers for our businesses.  

That’s why it is important for all Idahoans, especially parents, to embrace the Idaho Core Standards and help prepare our young people for successful lives. For jobs where they can support their families and enjoy all the wonderful things Idaho has to offer. 

Rod Gramer
Idaho Business for Education

Children Learning the Idaho Core Standards
Keep other countries from eating our jobs and our children’s future

Thomas Friedman, the best-selling author and columnist for the New York Times, recently recalled the advice his parents gave him around the dinner table. “Eat your vegetables,” they told him, “because there are starving kids in India and China.”

Friedman says he has a new take on that advice for his own daughters: “Finish your homework because there are people in India and China starving to steal your jobs.”

That sums up pretty well why we need the Idaho Core Standards. They are essential if we are to keep other countries from eating our jobs and our children’s future.

The Core Standards will help students compete academically and later on when they join the workforce. That alone should be reason enough for all Idahoans to support the successful implementation of the Standards.

But there is another over-arching reason: The Standards will help Idaho’s economy compete and thrive in the 21st Century.  And that will improve the quality of life for all Idahoans, especially our children and grandchildren whose future depends on a good education and healthy economy.

Studies show that more than 60 percent of the jobs in Idaho will require workers to hold some kind of post-secondary credential by the year 2018. That credential can be a workforce-ready certificate, an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Yet right now only 39 percent of Idaho’s 25-34 year olds hold a post-secondary credential. That creates a 21 percent gap between the number of educated workers we will need in five years and the current education level in the workforce.

Without having a highly educated and skilled workforce Idaho won’t be able to attract new companies that can pay livable wages and we will likely lose many of our existing companies to other states.

That has already happened. A few years ago Boise businessman Bob Lokken sold his company, Proclarity, to Microsoft with the understanding it would keep the jobs in Idaho. Microsoft tried to keep the agreement. But when it could not find the educated workers it needed, it was forced to move the company to Seattle.

We cannot afford to lose such high-paying and forward-leaning jobs. That’s why achieving our 60 percent goal is so essential.

But hitting the goal won’t be easy and it will be nearly impossible without the Idaho Core Standards.

That’s because Idaho currently has one of the worse “go-on” rates in the country. Only four out of 10 high school graduates go on to college. And most of those drop out before obtaining a post-secondary credential.

There are many complicated reasons our go-on rate is so low and why so few students drop out without receiving a degree. But one of the main reasons is our students are not prepared for the rigors of a post-secondary education.

A large percentage of students who go on – 25 percent who attend a four-year college and 75 percent who attend a two-year college – must receive remedial math and English. Many students who require mediation end up dropping out because they can’t keep up with their studies or they get frustrated.

The Idaho Core Standards will help reverse this troubling trend and better prepare students for post-secondary course work. They can also reduce the need for remediation, thus saving students a lot of frustration and taxpayers a lot of money.

The Standards can also give parents the peace of mind that comes with knowing that their children are being measured by the same standards as students in other states. They can have confidence in assessment tests that show whether their children are meeting the Standards or need more work in a particular subject.

The Standards not only help the students, parents and businesses. They can also enrich the professional experience for teachers and school administrators.

Teachers no longer have to focus on rote memorization or bombarding students with facts so they do well on bubble tests. They can focus on giving students the skills they need to be successful in school, work and life. Skills like critical thinking, the ability to absorb and analyze content and communicate orally and in writing.

Administrators will find greater satisfaction seeing their students flourish academically and going on to be successful in post-secondary education and the workforce. There is also a benefit to administrators by having teachers who are happier and more engaged.

Idahoans for Excellence in Education – a coalition of 30 Idaho-based organizations – formed last July to help parents, students, educators and the general public navigate these changes and see that the Standards are successfully implemented.

I’m proud to say that every major education group has joined our coalition. So have influential business groups like Idaho Business for Education, the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry and the Boise and Meridian Chambers of Commerce. So have nearly every child advocacy group in the state. The State Board of Education and all the Presidents of Idaho’s public universities and colleges are also members.

We are all committed to the Idaho Core Standards because they will build a solid foundation under our students. They will help them succeed academically, professionally and in life. And, most importantly, they will help Idaho and the United States compete so countries like India and China don’t eat our jobs and our children’s future.

Rod Gramer is President and CEO of Idaho Business for Education, a non-profit group of 70 Idaho businesses dedicated to improving education in our state. IBE is one of the original members of Idahoans for Excellence in Education coalition. 

Make sure the house has a firm foundation.

Make sure the house has a firm foundation.

Rod Gramer, President of Idaho Business for Education, told the Idaho Falls City Club last Friday that the Idaho Core Standards are the foundation of improving the Idaho education system.

You don’t build a house by putting up the roof and the walls first. You make sure that the house has a good foundation. Higher standards will create a strong foundation for Idaho’s education system and help improve our students’ academic success,” Gramer told the City Club.
Gramer said he is confident that our students will respond well to these new standards for math and English.
He noted that since the core standards were launched in Kentucky more students in that state are prepared for college course work. He said the same progress will be made in Idaho once the Idaho Core Standards are fully implemented.
He said that’s why every education and business group in Idaho supports the Idaho Core Standards.

Meridian Chamber of Commerce Logo

I had the opportunity to speak to the Meridian Chamber of Commerce last week about the importance of the Idaho Core Standards in helping prepare our young people for school, work and life. It was a large crowd and the business leaders were very interested in what the core standards are and how they can help improve our schools.

I noted that research shows that about 67 percent of the jobs in Idaho over the next five to 10 years will require a post-secondary credential. Yet right now less than 40 percent of our workforce holds such a credential.

We must have more students go on to post-secondary education and receive a credential if we are to have the highly educated and skilled workforce we need. Part of the problem is our current academic standards are not rigorous enough to successfully prepare our young people for post-secondary education. Too many of them need remediation in Math and English and drop out of school. We need higher standards so more can obtain the credential or degree necessary to fill the jobs of the future.

The Meridian area business leaders seemed very supportive of this message.


In his State of the State address today, Governor Butch Otter demonstrated his strong support for the implementation of the Idaho Core Standards, applauding the Education Task Force for recognizing the importance of the increased academic rigor in the standards.


I teach second grade on a military base where every year a large number of my students have come from another state or even another country. I have seen the effects varying educational standards have had on many of my students. While their education in their previous school might have been on track with that state’s standards, the education they received was not on track with Idaho’s standards. Once successful, confident students suddenly find themselves struggling to cope with the material I am teaching while I find myself struggling to fill in the gaps in their education. Last year, my students were writing stories with beginning, middle, and ending paragraphs and I had a student join my class midway through the year who didn’t have the skills to write a complete sentence. I had to go back to basics with this student and teach him to write a complete sentence with a subject and predicate, with a capital letter at the beginning and a period at the end, and then show him how to write a paragraph and join paragraphs to make a story.