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Dr. Don Coberly, the superintendent of the Boise, Idaho, school district, wrote a blunt letter to the district’s staff telling them not to believe the smears disseminated by the rich and powerful Albertson Foundation. This would be like the superintendent of Los Angeles telling Eli Broad to take his money and go away. Or the superintendent of any district turning down a bribe from the Gates Foundation to open more charters.
For his courage, I add Don Coberly to the blog’s honor roll.
The Albertson Foundation has been pushing charters and virtual charters. It doesn’t like public education. It is running an anti-public school campaign called “Don’t Fail Idaho.” It is about time that an educator with guts started a campaign calling out the Albertson Foundation for their anti-public school propaganda. Call it the “Albertson Foundation Fails Democracy” campaign.
Superintendent Coberly wrote:
Dear Boise School District staff member:
It’s been a while since we have communicated directly with you in an update. We wanted to take this opportunity to address an important issue.
Over the last few weeks you may have heard or seen the latest advertisements from the J.A and Kathryn Albertson Foundation’s “Don’t Fail Idaho” campaign. Perhaps the most controversial claim is that four out of five Idaho students are not prepared for life after high school. There are four facts we want you to understand about this campaign:
It promotes an agenda that is designed to undermine public schools.
It is highly inaccurate.
It offers no real solutions to increasing post-secondary readiness.
It is a disservice to the work you do every day for the youth of this district.
Undermining public schools
Why would someone want to undermine public education in Idaho? The motive is quite clear. At a recent Downtown Rotary Club meeting, the executive director of the Albertson Foundation stated that the goal of the Foundation is to increase charter school seats by 20,000 in the next few years. That will only happen if Idahoans lose faith in their public schools.
Predicting college success
Now let’s set the record straight. The data in question have been spun to create the illusion that 80% of Idaho’s high school graduates are not prepared for college. The source of the data is the 2015 SAT test, administered to juniors in Idaho’s high schools last April. The criteria used by the Foundation? A score of 500 on each of the 3 sections of the test, and an overall score of 1550, adopted by the Idaho Board of Education as an indicator of college success.
The creator of the SAT indicated that achieving this score provides a 66% chance that a freshman will achieve a grade average of B- in the first semester at a four-year college. While this may be one predictor of success in college, it clearly does not reflect other factors that often are more important. High school grades are more predictive than SAT scores. Experience in Dual Credit and Advanced Placement courses are more important. Enrollment and success in Professional Technical coursework, such as Welding or Auto Body, is more important.
Among members of the Boise District high school graduating class of 2009 who have graduated from college, nearly 40% did not achieve the benchmark when they took the SAT or its competitor, the ACT. According to the Foundation, it must be a miracle they graduated from college.
Additionally, we know that only 1 in 10 Boise District students entering Boise State University require remediation in math and reading. This is direct evidence that at least 90% of District students are prepared for college – and that’s due to the tremendous work you do with our students.
Our commitment to post-secondary readiness
The ad is just one more indication that the Foundation is out of touch with where Idaho is going. For the first time in nearly a decade, The Governor, State Board of Education, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, State Legislature, ISBA, IASA, and the IEA are working together to build up our public education system, funding schools more properly and making teacher salaries more competitive in order to improve the economy and develop a more educated citizenry. The Albertsons Foundation is trying to tear it down.
Your efforts are appreciated
In spite of the disheartening rhetoric that the Albertson Foundation is promoting, we know that the community supports and recognizes the work that all of you do daily to prepare our students. We will continue to oppose any effort to undermine your dedication, our students’ successes and the role public schools play in creating a vibrant, healthy city and state.
Please feel free to share the information contained herein with parents and community members who might have questions for you about the negative campaign being waged across the state by the Albertson Foundation. We value your service to the community and to our students, and we know that parents and community members do, as well.
Our District’s mission is to “graduate each student prepared for college, career, and citizenship.”
Thanks so much for all you do to help us achieve this mission.
Dr. Don Coberly
Boise School District