Top education stories of 2017

From controversy on Capitol Hill to blowback over local boundary changes, 2017 was a big year in education.

We reported, and you showed us which stories meant the most.

Some dealt with local, state or federal policies affecting your pocketbook or your child. Others outlined unique circumstances of students from across the state.

Here’s a recap of the year’s top education stories in Idaho, and the issues surrounding them. (Click here for our favorite photos of 2017.) 

School bonds and levies

Judging by reader feedback and our online traffic, talk of local K-12 funding makes you both tick and click.

At least 45 communities approved $695 million in local school bonds and levies during the March 2017 election alone. These measures affect local taxes.

Our seven-part deep dive into local funding yielded some of our highest online traffic this year, including a story about two Boise elementary schools embracing the wrecking ball.

Revisit the entire week-long series, created in partnership with Boise State Public Radio.

DeVos debacle

Either you love her or, well, you don’t.

U.S. education secretary Betsy DeVos

Either way, your feelings for President Trump’s controversial ed secretary pick, Betsy DeVos, fueled a lot of our online traffic in 2017.

From a torrent of online criticism to the historic, razor-thin senate vote that put her into office, here’s a rundown of those heavily read stories:

Science standards

If there’s anything more controversial among Idahoans than DeVos, it could be Idaho’s embattled science standards.

Legislators spent the past two sessions dissecting words in the state’s proposed science standards. They approved some temporary language earlier this year, but only after removing references to climate change — to the chagrin of many.

The 2018 Legislature is slated to revisit the issue. Here are two of our most popular stories to catch up:

College go-on rates

Idaho has a lofty goal to see 60 percent of high school graduates earn some sort of college degree or certificate.

But here’s the thing: After five years and $100 million, the state is still far from reaching the go-on goal.

All that money and the high stakes made for useful reading, according to you. Here are two of our most-read go-on stories of 2017:

Student features

People care more about people than concepts.

Mekala Abbott abused using and selling drugs at age 12.

You helped prove the theory right this year, with heavy interest in our student features. From one student’s redemptive tale about overcoming drugs to another’s fears of being deported, these student features were among our most-read in 2017:

Here are some of our other top stories of 2017:

Devin Bodkin

About Devin Bodkin

Reporter Devin Bodkin covers education issues in East Idaho. He is a former high school English teacher who specializes in stories about charter schools and educating students who live in poverty. He is a 2019 Solutions Journalism Network fellow and the Idaho Press Club's 2019 print reporter of the year. Follow Devin on Twitter @dsbodkin. He can be reached by email at [email protected].

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