HP to bankroll study of Idaho education system

One of Idaho’s corporate mainstays is bankrolling a study of the state’s education system — and the state’s economic future.

HP and Idaho Business for Education will team up on the research project, with a self-imposed June deadline.

The goals: figure out how to align curriculum, teaching methods and testing to support economic growth; pinpoint the college majors and career-technical fields that encourage growth; and learn what Idaho employers need, and don’t see, from today’s pool of applicants.

It’s the first time HP has headed up a study of a state’s education system.

“We’re all very, very excited,” said Michael “Gus” Schmedlen, HP’s vice president for worldwide education.

HP has conducted similar studies abroad, however, examining education systems in Hungary, Ecuador, Peru, Oman and Indonesia, making recommendations on school funding and teacher professional development, he said.

HP staff from the Boise campus will have a hand in the study, along with staff from the tech firm’s headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif. HP will also work with Marcela Escobari, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. Escobari will look at Idaho’s economic growth potential, and the kind of workers needed to support that growth.

Schmedlen and Escobari both spoke Monday at an IBE legislative academy at the Statehouse, attended by nearly 200 business and education leaders, as well as legislators from both sides of the aisle. At that time, Schmedlen spoke of the need to conduct in-depth research before launching into education reform.

The research will include a survey, face-to-face interviews and focus groups.

“We’re going to cast a wide net all over the state of Idaho,” said Rod Gramer, IBE’s president and chief executive officer.

HP and IBE hope to complete their research by June, in order to inform the work of a new education reform task force that will be charged with writing up a new five-year plan for Idaho education. Gov. Brad Little announced his plan to create the “Our Kids, Idaho’s Future” task force during his State of the State address Monday.

IBE is a statewide organization representing nearly 200 business leaders from across the state. HP, which first set up a campus in Boise in the early 1970s, is among the group’s members.

 

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