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The troubling education data - and the overwhelming support for change

The headlines are like a broken record.

"Idaho test scores show mixed results," proclaimed the Lewiston Tribune.

"Ranking in 48th place, with the third lowest average score, Idaho had an average score of 968, making it another struggling state for students undertaking SAT’s," reported IdaHome Magazine.

"ACT college admissions test scores fall to 30-year low" blared NPR.

Indeed, throughout the nation, ACT scores did fall. Idaho was a bright spot, however. Across subjects, ACT scores in the Gem State have increased slightly. The other mountain states show either stagnation or declines.

It's difficult to find much good news about the direction of K-12 public education. States continue to pour more money into a system that often shows few results. Parents and taxpayers are noticing. In recent polling, only one in four Americans believe K-12 is heading in the right direction.

The good news is that there's overwhelming support to change the system. It is across demographics and transcends political parties.

New polling conducted by YouGov shows 69% of Americans believe more education choice will improve the nation's education system. Only 10% believe it will weaken outcomes.

According to the polling, Americans support ending residential assignments of schools and also support Education Savings Accounts.

Education choice can come in all shapes and sizes - ESA's, charter schools, tax credit scholarships, vouchers, and yes, even public schools.

Thankfully, Idaho has a robust charter school network and Montana is working toward opening charter schools and has also passed an Education Savings Account for special needs children.

Idaho's successful Empowering Parents program also appears to be expanding, to include items such as musical instruments and tutoring.

Each state can always do more, and we are hopeful political leaders will be looking at ways to fund students, instead of a one-size-fits-all system.

Based on the polling, it's what the public wants. Based on current outcomes, it's what our children need.

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