After reading Clark Corbin’s account of the State Board of Education meeting this week in Moscow where we set tuition and fees for Idaho’s four-year colleges and universities, I feel like I need to respond.
Yes, the meeting was a bit of a struggle and it took time for all eight board members to get on the same page, but in my view, that is how it should be in a democracy. State law requires the State Board to conduct its business in public – that is why we call it a work session. Thanks to modern technology, Idahoans throughout the state are able to monitor board meetings via a livestream and watch the “sausage being made” as the old saying goes.
We are a part-time volunteer board and we take our responsibility to oversee Idaho’s public education system very seriously. Board Member Richard Westerberg said that setting tuition and fees is one of the most solemn decisions the State Board makes. That means asking questions, working through each proposal to make sure we all understand it, and deliberating. It usually takes time and a few tries to reach consensus and that is exactly what happened on Wednesday.
Mr. Corbin said our meeting wasn’t pretty or efficient. A public meeting that looked like that would in my view, resemble a rubber stamp and that is no way to set public policy.
I am proud of the way the State Board worked through the various proposals put forth by our colleges and universities. I think we struck a fair balance between costs to our students, and the operating needs of our higher education institutions. We weren’t battling nerves as Mr. Corbin surmised, we were setting public policy in an open and healthy way.
Written by Dr. Linda Clark, president of the Idaho State Board of Education.