Idaho's most ambitious and most talked-about educational goal runs headway into hard realities. Rooted in economics. Rooted in geography. And rooted in culture.
Idaho’s geography — and miles of hilly, serpentine two-lane highway — separates Weiser from a college campus. A social divide also stands in the way — harder to see, and possibly harder to cross.
Since 2013-14, Idaho has spent at least $133.4 million on programs designed to help convince high school graduates to continue their education.
In Idaho, it is impossible to confront the issues of college enrollment, and college completion, without staring straight into the eye of college affordability.
In rural communities, career-technical education is often seen as a complement, or a counterweight, to the push to college. But schools often struggle to find qualified CTE teachers, or provide a full slate of course offerings.
Mini-Cassia students can work under a unique apprenticeship program that promises high school credits, summer work — and a permanent job after graduation. Partners say the formula could work for other communities and industries.
Idaho's "60 percent goal" defines a target, while trivializing the challenge. In trying to convince high school graduates to stay in school, Idaho is seeking to create new family histories and establish new community beliefs.