Voices from the Idaho EdNews Community

Idaho suffers from a significant trust deficit

Idaho is a wonderful state, full of incredible natural beauty and brimming with resources. We are a patriotic, kind spirited and generous people. My wife and I moved here 30 years ago, and never looked back. We all are truly blessed to live in this “Gem” of a state.

Despite all of the above, Idaho reminds me of the story of the rich young man in the New Testament, where despite all of the good things he was doing, Jesus tells him, “One thing thou lackest.”

The one area where we lack is trust. Idaho suffers from a significant trust deficit.

Legislators don’t trust that teachers understand curriculum, or know how to teach, teachers and administrators don’t trust that legislators will step up and provide necessary resources, the state board doesn’t trust the state department, the state department doesn’t trust the state board, administrators don’t trust the motives of the IEA, the IEA doesn’t trust administrators to evaluate correctly, legislators don’t trust the Governor, and all too often school boards and superintendents eye each other warily….

As a result, we have a time wasting, expensive, senseless SBAC test that doesn’t measure academic progress, a 24 page behemoth teacher evaluation rubric, principals frantically digging up “Artifacts” to prove their worth, a massive hoop jumping exercise so teachers can show they “Deserve” a raise, 98 school district override levies to counteract lack of state spending, state educational departments being yanked left and right, not to mention a multitude of finger pointing, name calling, mudslinging and general mistrust. Whew!

Sad. Very sad, unnecessary and exhausting.

In order for our state to improve and to work effectively we need to start trusting each other. Trust that motives are benign or well intentioned, trust that people are trying their level best, trust the intelligence, competency, and professionalism, of those around us.

If we truly want to move our state forward, we need to address the trust deficit. We have all the tools necessary to forge the very best for our children and grandchildren.

We are Idahoans and we can do better.

Geoff Thomas

Geoff Thomas

Geoff Thomas is the former superintendent of the Madison School District and was a member of the governor's Task Force for Improving Education. He now serves as an assistant professor at Idaho State University.

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