Like many states, Idaho embraced Complete College America, a nonprofit corporate entity, and in 2010 the State Board of Education (SBOE) endorsed “Complete College Idaho.” A key element of this plan, one still strongly supported by Idaho Governor C.L. (Butch) Otter in 2016, is the “ambitious goal that 60% of Idahoans ages 25-34 will have a degree or certificate by 2020.” Recently the legislature passed a resolution of support, describing the 60% figure as “a stretch goal”; however, the resolution carried no additional funding, even though, as a state lawmaker noted, “Idaho is still spending less on higher education than it did in 2009” (Idaho Education News). The Complete College Idaho plan affects English studies in that, to achieve the goal, so-called “remedial” writing courses were re-conceived as co-requisite courses adapted from the accelerated learning program model of the Community College of Baltimore (ALP), rather than as non-credit, pre-composition level classes.
It’s unlikely Idaho will reach the 60% goal in just four years.Idaho Education News reports that “progress toward the 60 percent goal has stagnated. Only 40 percent of young adults now hold a degree or certificate.” Many students see little value in higher education, especially in a low wage state. In a 2016 survey study, University of Idaho researchers focused on graduating seniors with follow-up four months later. One key finding: “One-third of respondents were not fully convinced that more education would help them financially. Idaho’s average wage per job is among the lowest in the nation. Over time, the average wage gap between Idaho and the rest of the nation is increasing.” About a year ago, reporter Daniel Walters, in a fascinating newspaper piece, offered comprehensive reporting on why Idaho students do not go to college, noting Idaho’s isolated geography, attitude of self-reliance, dwindling good paying jobs even with technical skills, and low national ratings of public schools. A 2016 Boise State University survey of 1,000 Idaho adults revealed that 73% of Idahoans believe schools are doing only a fair or poor job of college preparation.
Another way the governor has framed his support for Complete College Idaho is his proposal for a new community college, the College of Eastern Idaho. Community college attendance, at least at the relatively new (2009) College of Western Idaho (CWI), has grown rapidly; in fact, CWI was described as having “grown faster than any community college in American history” (Otter). Eastern Idaho is now served by a technical institute that focuses on technical training, not four-year college transfer, and the governor proposes to grow that institution into a full community college. The College of Eastern Idaho proposal passed the legislature and includes start-up funding.
Idaho Education News
Life after High School (University of Idaho survey)