Today marks a milestone for Idaho Education News.
We’re tripling in size to offer you the most comprehensive and in-depth news on public education in Idaho.
Two years ago, Kevin Richert, Clark Corbin and I — print journalists with more than 40 years of experience — partnered to launch a never-before seen Idaho product: IdahoEdNews.org.
It was a risk. But it was a vision I believed in.
We had doubters. We had our own doubts.
But we also had a lot of people who had a tremendous amount of faith and willingness to invest in our talent and our idea. Thank you to the people who were integral in launching Idaho Ed News. This includes Roger Quarles, Jamie MacMillan, Jennie Sue Weltner, William Parrett, Alicia Ritter and Sophie Sestero.
And a huge thank you to the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation for committing to fund our three-person startup.
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We are proud to say today, we far exceeded our expectations and goals.
We have earned the respect of readers by producing accurate and unique content.
Visits to our website have grown by nearly 300 percent. We’ve collected thousands of followers on Twitter, Facebook and our weekly e-newsletter.
Because of our reputation and independent product, we were welcomed into the Idaho Press Club and Capital Correspondents. In our first year, we won multiple Idaho Press Club awards, including best online news website, and Kevin Richert was named Idaho’s Reporter of the Year.
We are proud to be a public awareness service dedicated to informing Idahoans about education policy and best practices.
We also are proud to say that almost every major newspaper and TV website in Idaho has republished our stories, including the Idaho Statesman, Idaho Press-Tribune, Twin Falls Times-News, Spokesman-Review, Coeur d’Alene Press and Boise State Public Radio. We have a regular partnership with KIVI Channel 6, we make frequent appearances on “Idaho Reports” and we partnered with Idaho Public Television on election debate coverage. We are grateful for their trust in our work and for granting us the needed exposure for our new service.
We know there are so many more educators, lawmakers, parents and taxpayers who will be interested in education news. Our funders agree, which is why we are tripling our staff to reach more Idahoans and cover every corner of the state.
To complement the extraordinary reporting and writing talents of Kevin Richert and Clark Corbin, we’re adding two talented professionals to enhance our offerings.
Andrew Reed starts today as our multimedia specialist. He joins us with a strong background in television and social media. He’ll deliver the news in a variety of platforms, such as photo galleries, videos, podcasts and graphics. He’ll also enhance our social media content.
We were fortunate to hire Randy Schrader as our education policy expert and data analyst. He has 30 years in education as a teacher, principal and superintendent. We consult with him every day. Randy also is an education data expert who will collect and mine data that will drive our investigative reporting. We’ll make sense of the numbers — from test results, to teacher evaluations to demographics. We will follow your tax dollars and hold lawmakers and educators accountable for your money.
Randy will orchestrate IdahoEdTrends.org to be the best data site in the country. It’s nearly there, hosting the most recent and publicly available data on every school, charter and district in Idaho. IdahoEdTrends.org has a feature where you can compare any schools in Idaho on demographics, academic achievement and financials. This product will become invaluable as we plug in the forthcoming ISAT scores that will be unveiled later this year.
We are committed to reaching all corners of Idaho, so we hired reporters David Keyes in Coeur d’Alene and Nate Sunderland in Rexburg. They will write news and features from their communities.
Also starting today is Brad Bolicek, our new management assistant who will help us produce special projects. And we’re looking forward to mentoring two student assistants, Nicole Criner and Stone Sutton, who are studying journalism and film.
We are first and foremost committed to being an accurate and independent messenger on public education in Idaho.
And we are now able to offer that news in a variety of formats and from every corner of the state.
We are humbled by your support these last two years. One of my favorite memories was hearing from a mother in Teton who was grateful for relevant education news so she could make better decisions for her children and family. While we love to hear from legislators, superintendents, educators and business leaders, hearing from parents validates our mission.
We are committed to improving Idaho Ed News and adjusting to find what’s best for our readers and followers. We have the resources and we have the talent.
Please contact me with your story ideas and tell us what you’d like us to investigate. Tell me what data you are interested in and we’ll go find it, mine it and write about it.
I look forward to developing the best place to find the most relevant, current and useful information on Idaho education.
— Jennifer Swindell, managing editor of Idaho Education News