Let’s Get to an Educated State

Screen shot 2013-03-29 at 10.54.45 AMFew issues rank as highly as our children. Their futures and security are paramount to any parent, so naturally it’s distressing when we hear that Idaho is falling behind against national metrics in education. No one wants to fail. No one wants to stand by while kids fail. As an involved dad of three kids, all in public schools, I show up to root my kids on in basketball, soccer, lacrosse, and music programs. Why shouldn’t I show up when it’s about math, reading and science?

Education is a hot topic these days and over the last few years I’ve personally been engaged in many quality discussions about improving education in Idaho. As a parent, a community member and neighbor – caring about the state of our students and the outcome of our education matters a great deal to me. I expect it matters a great deal to each of us. Yet, the issue has become so politically charged, when the J.A. & Kathryn Albertson Foundation asked Drake Cooper to help them with messaging I could only be cautiously excited. Why? Because it’s easier to not get involved.

Apathy is seductive.

I can’t and shouldn’t speak for the Albertson Foundation, these opinions are my own, but I’ve read enough and thought enough and spoken to enough of you that I know I am not alone here. Progress and change to the system we’ve set up to educate our young people is required and overdue.

The mission of Albertson Foundation is to discover, develop and expand environments of limitless learning for all Idahoans. The goal of the campaign Don’t Fail Idaho is to educate, inform and to be a catalyst for change. It’s a rallying cry to all corners of the state and a reminder that against a backdrop of many social issues, education is important. It’s up to each of us to not fail our future generations.

Although the team at Albertson Foundation gave us a lot of creative freedoms with this work, they were very clear that in no way is there a single culprit to blame. Further to that point, this campaign is not out to disparage those that are working so hard every day to educate our young folks. Teachers are at the heart of Albertson Foundation’s work and much of the $500 million donated to Idaho’s education system involves them and their initiatives.

My hands on experiences are limited to the time I get as an evening homework helper and more-than-occasional classroom Dad. My wife, on the other hand has given several hours every week for years helping teachers or in our children’s schools. As well, my mother worked in public schools and my sister has been an amazing and inspirational schoolteacher for many years. Through them I have seen first hand the tremendous labor of love that the professional calling of a teacher really is.

Regardless of how you look at this issue and whether or not you have children in public schools, no upstanding citizen of Idaho wishes education to rank last on our state’s list of priorities. Because of the politicized nature of this topic, some are quick to point to a single bad guy lurking in the shadows that we can quickly and easily blame. For all of us, I wish it was that easy or that quick, but unfortunately in this case no one can claim to have the silver bullet for this problem. It’s an immense undertaking, that being the case I think of the famous Margaret Mead quote “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

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This isn’t just about my kids in Boise, or your kids in Twin Falls or Sandpoint. It’s not your kids in Ucon, Harrison, or Melba. The conversation is beyond your kids and your town. It’s about OUR kids in OUR state being part of a public system of education that insures Idaho’s children are being given the best opportunity we can afford them on their path to being educated individuals. It’s about these children being able to perform on the world stage that the 21st Century is offering them like no age before them. If we let that guide us, surely there is a way. My generation grew up wanting to go to the moon. My first grade daughter wants to paint unicorns on Mars.

I am incredibly grateful that Albertson Foundation has asked us to help with this initiative in Idaho. We take our craft and this work very seriously and treat it with respect. I am equally grateful for a wonderful team of talented people at Drake Cooper who have tirelessly worked to create these messages with passion and care. Getting to be part of this exciting process makes me hopeful for our future.

It makes me want to paint unicorns on Mars too.

See more on Don’t Fail Idaho.

-jamie