A look back at our first year

Glenn Beck vs. Tom Luna — it’s our bestseller.

Idaho Education News launched on Jan. 7.  We have published more than 500 stories over the last 11 months, and the most popular was a blog post about Beck and Luna.

On March 14, Beck devoted his talk show to Common Core State Standards, calling it a leftist movement that would devastate public education.

“Progressives have jammed this through in the dead of night,” Beck said. “Beside being dumber, our kids are going to be indoctrinated with extreme leftist ideology. We will not save our country unless we save it first from this attack.”

Tom Luna
Tom Luna

Luna’s staff fought back with an email to Idaho reporters, accusing Beck of dispensing misinformation.

“The most popular myth is that these are ‘national’ standards that were developed by President Obama and his administration and are now being applied in states across the country. This is not true. These were developed by several states working together,” the email said.

More than 20 people commented on our site, taking sides and turning the fight into a brawl of words.

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So who won in the Beck vs. Luna main event?

Idaho implemented the state’s version of the standards this school year, but they could be reconsidered during the 2014 Legislature. The answer likely lies in the fate of children and how they progress — in time — with the new standards in place.

The Luna-Beck blog by Kevin Richert had nearly 3,000 page views.

Popular breaking news

About 15 other stories had more than 1,000 page views each, including a couple about the Governor’s Task Force for Improving Education. Idaho Education News covered every meeting of the task force but the most popular stories came at the start, when the 31 members were announced, and at the end, when stakeholders shared their recommendations.Those recommendations will likely continue to be a popular topic as lawmakers and education leaders try to implement and fund them over the coming years.

News about Idaho’s most challenging schools and most distinguished schools received some of our highest traffic, as did the breaking story of Luna hiring Roger Quarles to be his chief deputy. The July story about Quarles led to the best single day of traffic ever on IdahoEdNews,org with nearly 3,000 page views.

Our readers also like features

Danielle Derek Ahlstrom - brother
Danielle Ahlstrom with her brother Derek

Three inspiring and interesting features also logged more than 1,000 page views each.

  • Danielle Ahlstrom was only 23 years old when she graduated in May with a doctor in pharmacy degree from Idaho State University. Her fast road to high achievement was paved by her time at Meridian Medical Arts Charter School. Her Idaho roots and success were a draw for readers.
  • A kindergarten classroom at Star Elementary School was equipped with $40,000 of technology. The “Magic Room,” as the kids like to call it, is one of a kind in Idaho and one of only 20 nationwide.
  • The Coeur d’Alene Charter Academy is not a school for everyone. Idaho’s most successful school is also controversial, and 25 of our readers commented about its practices.

Finding your school’s star rating

The no-contest, most popular feature at IdahoEdNews.org is our database listing the five-star rating of every school in Idaho. More than 5,000 visitors checked to see their school’s ratings over the last two years and how those ratings compare to other schools.

That high interest in data prompted us to create IdahoEdTrends, a new, beefed-up data center that will give you a profile of your school and comparisons with other Idaho schools. IdahoEdTrends is under construction, but look for it early next year.

Followers and likes

Randy Schrader
Randy Schrader

We have 715 Twitter followers and 585 likes on Facebook. Either avenue serves as a way to get our news alerts and promotions. Our Twitter followers are mostly male, while our Facebook friends are  mostly female. They tend to be educators and professionals. A favorite story of our Twitter followers was former Sen. Branden Durst’s absence from an education interim committee meeting; the subsequent story about his resignation also generated traffic. Hundreds of  Twitter and Facebook followers clicked through to read our feature about Randy Schrader, a former Boise State University football player and teacher, administrator and coach and a variety of K-12 schools. Schrader will retire at the end of this year as superintendent of the Garden Valley School District.

We also have a weekly e-newsletter that goes to nearly 1,300 emails every Friday morning. The e-newsletter features our favorite 10 stories of the week.

More numbers

IdahoEdNews.org averages more than 13,000 visits and nearly 30,000 page views each month. We are proud of our traffic and followers after only one year. We anticipate these numbers will increase next year as education becomes a focal point of the 2014 Legislature and the 2014 elections. We’ll be present for meetings, developments and debates. Stay tuned and stay up on Idaho K-12 education.