Quarles pulled from overseas trip

Deputy state Superintendent Roger Quarles will no longer represent Idaho in an international education reform effort.

The State Department of Education’s second-in-command was named last month to an Idaho team participating in the Global Partnership Program. Ten countries will take part in the program’s first meeting, which will be held later this month in Hong Kong.

The partnership requires each country to send a government representative as part of its delegation. Quarles’ plane ticket has already been purchased.

But an agency policy grounded Quarles.

Roger Quarles
Roger Quarles

“Since 2007, the Idaho State Department of Education has had an internal policy that employees cannot travel internationally on SDE time,” said department spokesperson Melissa McGrath. “Since Dr. Quarles would have been representing the SDE in this capacity through this grant, he is unable to participate.”

Tax dollars are not paying for the trip. The Global Partnership is funded by national organizations, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Microsoft. Idaho’s travel expenses will be paid by the Idaho Leads project, a professional development team funded by the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation.

“We are just not able to offer Dr. Quarles’ time on this project,” McGrath said.

The Education Department’s internal policy is not universal within state government. For example, Gov. Butch Otter has traveled to more than 80 countries on private and public trade missions. Earlier this year, Otter spent eight days in Asia, including stops in South Korea and Vietnam.

“I am sure Idaho Leads or the Global Partnership will be able to find another government representative at the state or federal level to fulfill this role,” McGrath said.

Idaho Leads co-director Lisa Kinnaman agreed.

“I’m confident we’ll find a replacement but it is unfortunate Idaho’s education department will not be represented,” Kinnaman said. “I believe Idaho has a lot to share and much to learn from the rest of the world. It is a real honor that Idaho has been selected to represent the United States in this effort focused on improving the learning experience for students worldwide.”

Kinnaman, Kathleen Budge and William Parrett, co-directors of the Idaho Leads project, are Idaho’s representatives on the United States team.

Idaho and Washington were selected to represent the United States in the  Global Partnership Program that unites 10 countries and 1,000 schools. The United States will be represented by 37 schools from the Federal Way School District in Washington state, and 63 schools from the Idaho Leads project,

The other countries participating are Australia, Uruguay, Senegal, Canada, Latvia and Colombia. Europe will be represented by a consortium of schools. Another two countries will join this month.

Disclaimer: Idaho Education News and the Idaho Leads project are both housed by Boise State University and funded by the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation.


Jennifer Swindell

Jennifer Swindell

Managing editor and CEO Jennifer Swindell founded Idaho Education News in 2013. She has led the online news platform as it has grown in readership and engagement every year, reaching over two million pageviews a year. Jennifer has more than 35 years of experience in Idaho journalism. She also has served as a public information officer for Idaho schools and as a communication director at Boise State University. She can be reached at [email protected].

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