Voices from the Idaho EdNews Community

The need to bring awareness to school choice grows rapidly in Idaho


The National School Choice Week organization began in 2011 to spread awareness of school choice options. As this week approaches for 2023 (beginning on January 22), the need to bring awareness to school choice grows rapidly in Idaho.

A recent brief released by Bluum demonstrated the difficulties that schools of choice – specifically charter schools – are facing while trying to provide a high-quality option for education to students. According to the report, charter schools are only meeting 30.4% of their facility needs and work to fill the remaining 69.6% from other avenues. Often leading to a decrease in the number of teaching staff charter schools are able to hire.

This facility gap creates a burden on charters to operate with an average of nine fewer teachers. Lacking any teachers hinders the work of a school, but this is a reality that charter schools experience every day.

Having worked in charter schools for six years, there has always been a nagging feeling that the teachers in these schools are stretched a little thin. This brief acknowledges that sentiment and provides a bit of an explanation as to why. At the end of the day, this school choice option is working at a deficit to bring opportunities to the growing population of Idaho students.

Gov. Brad Little issued some positivity at his State of the State address this year by reminding Idaho families that there are a number of school choice options available to them. This is an indication that current school choice options are on his radar, but now it’s time to invest and make them more equitable.

School choice week is a great opportunity to continue pushing for awareness of the options that exist and encourage change to make them even better. It can be seen that there is a drastic need to close this facility gap and provide the funds that charter’s need to run at an even higher capacity and produce even greater results.

As I’ve worked to create a schedule and staff a school, I have seen the challenge of having enough teachers to not burn out those who work at the school. We try to make it the most conducive environment for students and staff, because we want everyone to have the opportunity to thrive in their school. Sometimes it is even just the addition of one more teacher that would make the difference for the school to feel like it can operate at full capacity.

This school choice week I want to celebrate the hard work that teachers who work at a school of choice do, because we see that there is a gap that could cause more to be put on their plate.

We want these schools to remain an option for families and students. They provide options and opportunities that might better meet the needs of those we serve.

This week can be used to catalyze some real change for our schools of choice. Little and lawmakers have that power. I hope they look into this and begin to create opportunities to fill the gap that will only continue to grow if not addressed.


Austin Ambrose

Austin Ambrose

Austin Ambrose is dean of students at Forge International School in Middleton. He previously taught elementary school in Nampa. In his current position, Ambrose is responsible for building school culture and providing emotional/behavioral support for students.

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