Townhall discussion focuses on pathways after high school

A nationally recognized Idaho teacher warned that if students aren’t starting in elementary school to start think about opportunities after high school, it may be too late.

“We can’t start in high school,” Garfield Elementary teacher Sonia Galaviz said. “That conversation needs to happen when they are 6, 7 and 8, and you better believe we are talking about it in fifth grade.”

Starting early and changing the culture were among several points educators and policymakers made Tuesday evening during a townhall discussion of Idaho’s signature education goal.

The Idaho Education News-sponsored townhall forum was a companion piece to the publication’s eight-part series, “Obstacles and options: Building pathways beyond high school.”

Idaho EdNews senior reporter Kevin Richert wrote the series and served as moderator of the townhall. During the event and in the series, Richert and the panelists explained how a college education is only a part of the strategy to build pathways after high school. Career-technical education is a big part of the mix, as are dual credit courses, the direct admissions programs and financial aid.

Idaho EdNews used last week’s series and Tuesday’s townhall as a chance to spark a larger discussion about the 60 percent goal and life after high school. For years, Idaho has struggled to make progress toward the goal of 60 percent of the state’s young adult’s holding some sort of postsecondary degree or certificate. The latest data shows Idaho continues to be stuck at 42 percent.

“It’s a big issue and it’s a generational challenge,” Richert said. “I think that comes through loud and clear.”

Emilly Perez, a Weiser High student who plans to go on to college, said a support system is important to navigating pathways after high school — and avoiding obstacles. As she sought to become a first-generation college student, Perez said it was important for her to embrace expectations early in life that she would go on after high school. She also said watching her older siblings go on inspired her.

“Throughout school, I always knew I wanted to go on. I wanted to do something big with my life,” she said.

Colleges and universities are also revising how they approach education and prepare students. Boise State University Interim Provost Tony Roark said his college is rethinking everything from its approach to remediation courses to emphasizing academic coaches, not just academic advisers.

“We need them to help define the path forward,” Roark said.

The 60 percent goal, as well as the obstacles and options students face after graduating high school, are likely to be topics of discussion during the 2019 legislative session, which kicks off next month.

Further reading: click here to begin reading Richert’s series, “Obstacles and options.”

Panelists from Tuesday’s forum included:

  • Galaviz.
  • Perez
  • Roark
  • Wil Overgaard, superintendent of the Weiser School District.
  • Kandi Turley-Ames, dean of the College of Arts and Letters at Idaho State University.
  • Debbie Critchfield, State Board of Education.
  • Monze Stark, associate director at University of Idaho.
  • Manuel Garcia, student at College of Southern Idaho.

Townhall co-sponsors include the Education Writers Association, Boise State Public Radio, Idaho Public Television, KIVI-TV Channel 6, the City Club of Boise and Boise State University’s Center for School Improvement and Policy Studies at the College of Education.


Clark Corbin

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