How can the state best help parents?

Sometimes I get caught up in the day to day parenting, and forget to look at the bigger picture.

On school days, I get up early to make breakfast, encourage my kids to eat, pack a healthy lunch and send them out the door (hopefully) on time. When they get home from school, we go over their homework, talk about their day, run to and from sports practices, eat dinner and try to get everyone to bed at a reasonable time. It’s busy, and sometimes, overwhelming.

Planning for my children’s future is not something we discuss on a daily basis. Not because it is not important, but because we’re busy and we don’t have the answers. I don’t know what my kids want to do after high school, where they want to go or what options they will have. There is a daunting amount of decisions that need to be made and factors to consider before my kids can make a smooth transition into higher education.

  • How do we pick the right school?
  • How  do we finance a post-secondary education?
  • Does everyone need more education after high school?
  • Do dual credit classes/concurrent credit classes really make a difference?
  • How and when do we apply for college?
  • How do we teach our kids the importance of education right now?

State education leaders recognize parents and students need help solving these questions. In 2012, Gov. Butch Otter commissioned an Educational Task Force to study and collaborate ways to improve education in Idaho. Now that the data has been collected and studied, the Educational Task Force is looking to implement a program called Guided Pathways.

The Guided Pathways program has multiple goals, with one aimed towards educating parents. The president of the State Board of Education Dr. Linda Clark wrote an article explaining a 12-week “college for parents” program in Arizona. This program would help parents plan for their child’s current- and long-term educational goals.

Debbie Critchfield, the vice president of the State Board of Education, summarized the priorities of Idaho’s program;

  1. Parent Academy
  2. Communication/Outreach to parents and students, increased parent and student engagement
  3. Transition Coordinators or Near Peers statewide (in all high schools), consistent first year postsecondary experience
  4. Parental Portal – resource for college and career advising and career exploration
  5. Common Transcripts (HS/Dual Credit)
  6. School counselor roles/duties defined (eliminate non-school counselor duties from current tasks)
  7. Simplify Advanced Opportunities administration
  8. BEST, AVID, etc. (Student Type) programs funded/provided statewide
  9. Create a uniform K-12 career exploration class
  10. Liaison/better customer service/reduce confusion (between K-12 and postsecondary)
  11. Uniform technology (including postsecondary titles for advisors, single identified point of contact, consistent use of defined transition coordinator model)
  12. Senior Projects (expand to include more career exploration/internships) – require to be more meaningful
  13. New standards of Life Skills added to existing content standards
  14. College and Career Advising Centers around the state with trained staff in college and career advising
  15. 8th grade advising overhaul (start earlier)
  16. System-like approach to school district and charter school college and career advising plans (develop best practices)

It all sounds fantastic.

But will it really happen? What will it cost? Will it be helpful to parents and children? How will they make parents aware of these taxpayer-funded programs? 

What do you think of these ideas? Which ones stand out as important or unimportant to you?

Melanie Flake

Melanie Flake

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