Voices from the Idaho EdNews Community

Business leaders present their priorities

Skip Oppenheimer

During the last 23 months, Idahoans engaged in a statewide discourse about our education system.  We have debated the merits of education reform proposals and discussed what the end goals of our children’s education should be.  Despite the sometimes fraught and heated debate, and perhaps because of it, we have elevated the level of interest in education around the state and now have a unique opportunity to come together and craft meaningful, needed reform for our students, schools and communities.

Idaho Business for Education, a not-for-profit organization whose membership consists of Idaho business CEOs, presidents and managing partners, is particularly interested in how the outcomes of these reforms will affect the economy of this state.  The Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce predicts that by 2020, 63 percent of Idaho jobs will require a career certificate or college degree. Currently only 34 percent of Idaho adults ages 25-34 have an associate degree or higher.  For our young people to compete in an ever-changing global economy, we must prepare them to obtain higher levels of education.

In the interest of bridging the gap between our projected workforce needs and current attainment, Idaho Business for Education will approach the Governor’s task force and any legislative action with the following priorities:

  • Student Achievement – Priority must be given to evidence-based practices that increase student achievement and promote post-secondary completion.
  • Transparency and Accountability – We believe that Idaho’s citizens and businesses must be engaged, and deserve transparency and accountability in our state’s education system and spending. IBE will advocate for transparent, evidence-based data management systems, linked to internationally benchmarked standards and assessments, to drive the allocation of resources and ensure a return on those investments and accountability for results.
  • Great Teachers and Leaders –Teachers and school leaders are fundamental to the education of our young people.  Idaho Business for Education will advocate for policies and practices that ensure the recruitment, retention, and development of highly effective teachers and leaders in every school.

Idaho Business for Education is in agreement that lasting reform will only occur through collaborative action; however we do believe this is an urgent cause.  To illustrate that point – in 2020 today’s 8th graders should be graduating from college.  It is imperative that we work collaboratively, yet quickly, to dramatically increase the educational attainment in this state.

We look forward to working with all education stakeholders in the weeks and months to come and have high hopes that we can make great strides toward our shared goals in this state.











Skip Oppenheimer

Skip Oppenheimer is the board chair of the Idaho Business for Education, a group of current and former CEOs. Skip Oppenheimer also is chair and CEO of Oppenheimer Companies, Inc.

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