Saturday, February 25, 2006

Idaho Legislators, Could You Possibly Care Any Less About Education?

Update: Today's Idaho State Journal mentioned the defeat of S1406 in the Senate State Affairs Committee yesterday. I just wanted to share a couple of the quotes from the article that I found particularly motivating.

ASISU Lobbyist Ryan Sargent (soon to be ASISU President) said: "We're definately not finished with it. It showed legislators that there are student lobbyists that want to get things done. Even though we didn't win the vote, I think we won a lot more respect." As one of my very favorite Republicans, I admire Ryan's work on this legislation especially because he was able to find bi-partisan sponsorship.

But please don't get me wrong, I am still extremely disappointed that only one member of the committee voted in favor of the bill.

One other quote that I found particularly amusing was the closing quote by Senator Bob Geddes (R- Soda Springs): "There's definately some leadership demonstrated in the [youth of Southeast Idaho]."

No kidding?

And if I could say something to the ISJ, that titled the piece "ISU students receive tough lesson in politics"-- as students, our plight is ALWAYS a tough lesson in politics.

"We shall one day learn to supersede politics by education. What we call our root-and-branch reforms of slavery, war, gambling, intemperance, is only medicating the symptoms. We must begin higher up, namely, in Education." --Ralph Waldo Emerson

When Trevor Jensen, Associated Students Senator at ISU, says that "the state is becoming very good at paying for the problem, but not funding a solution," every student at Idaho State who has heard Senator Jensen speak before knows clearly what he speaks of. His message is that in the state of Idaho, our legislature is very good at funding prisons and welfare systems, but fails at funding higher education.

Wednesday I had the opportunity to attend a Rally for Higher Education at Idaho State University. Last semester the Idaho Progressive Student Alliance held a similar rally here in our SUB pleading for attention from voters and policy makers everywhere. Our message fell on deaf ears then and again fell on deaf ears Wednesday.

In a room with two bloggers, two reporters, and several cameras, the only attention that came out of that room and into the homes of the community was a short clip on the least watched news station in Pocatello and a short write-up in the local newspaper. And the picture in the article was not of our university president, Dr. Gallagher, because he didn't show up the rally and it wasn't of our wonderful student senator, Trevor Jensen, because I guess people have tired of hearing his voice, but the picture was of Dean Covey, a well-known face here on campus. What we don't need is more people looking at our administration. We do need people looking at our student leadership, our disappointment in funding, and our irritation with our state legislature.

I applaud the time Dean Covey, Councilman Stallings, and Senator Jensen spent to speak with students. They each had a very personal message for students: GET INVOLVED. Our generation is the most apathetic, the least likely to show up, and the least listened to of voting blocks in this state. Why? We don't vote. We don't show up. We don't voice our concerns until after there is little anyone can do about it.

A few comments Dean Covey made in regard to students as a whole ring loudly in my memory as I write this. He said that as students, our "voice is disproportionately loud." This is for the most part true. There are those few outspoken individuals here on campus that never give up the battle no matter how seemingly pointless it becomes. Trevor Jensen has been an unbelievable voice for ISU students, as has Ryan McBride, the president of Idaho Students as One, and Ryan Sargent our ASISU lobbyist. But our voices are not enough. We need dedicated students who care about the future of education in this state to stand up and raise their concerns to their state legislators. We need concerned parents who wonder how they'll send their next child through college to speak out and request funding from the state. We don't just need a handful of student activists and leaders to get at the pulpit and preach the injustices of the inadequate funding of education in Idaho, we need a roomful of student activists who have experienced first hand the injustices of higher ed funding and are sick of it.

As cynical as it sounds, Richard Stallings made a very good point about how legislators feel about students, he said that "[students] are not a particularly important issue to the politicians in Boise." He couldn't be more right. Yesterday I emailed every member of the Senate State Affairs Committee stating my strong support for the legislation they would be considering today on placing a non-voting student member on the State Board of Education. I received one response and it wasn't even from a Democrat.

This morning the legislation drafted by our student lobbyist from Idaho State and sponsored by two Republicans and one Democrat failed in the Senate State Affairs Committee.

I have had a pretty poor attitude all week, I'll freely admit that, but even on my best day, with my best attitude, I would have reacted the same to the news that our legislation was defeated. To honest with you, I'm beyond livid. I want to ask those senators who voted against S1406 this morning in the Senate State Affairs Committee where they went to school. I want to ask them if their educational experience in Idaho was a positive one. I want to ask them who they think are the future leaders of this state and why they feel absolutely no obligation to the education of those leaders.

Personally, I know exactly where I would be had I not attended public school in Idaho. Had I not spent twelve years in Idaho schools I would not be attending Idaho State University today. Had I not had the most remarkable and influential teachers that I did, including State Senator and candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction Bert Marley, I would not have even graduated from high school much less continued my education. Just this afternoon I was talking with someone about my plans for graduate school. Graduate school wouldn't have even crossed my mind had I not been in Bert Marley's classroom as a high school student. Graduate school wouldn't have even been an option had I not had the personal support and guidance of the Declo High School faculty. The only reason I have the privilege to write this informed post on the state of education funding in Idaho this evening and the only reason you have the opportunity to read it is because I was educated in Idaho schools.

Without proper funding students seek more loans, they work several jobs, they run themselves into the ground. As I said to Rep. Elaine Smith and Rep. Elmer Martinez while filming the Bannock County Democrats Show, you can only ask students to do so much before they stop being students.

This afternoon I happened to run into Ryan McBride in the ISU Library, both of us looking for books on public opinion and voting, and he said he's trying to be positive following today's vote, but together we asked, if everyone is asking why the student apathy, why aren't we asking what do we have to vote for?

When there is a candidate that students can trust, a candidate that we know will support our attempt to place a student on the State Board of Education, and a candidate that understands that we are the future of this state, there won't be a single student on this campus staying home on election day. There are 14,000 votes on this campus. Bring us pro-education, pro-funding, pro-future leaders of the state candidates and we will get them elected.

3 comments:

Diana Rowe Pauls said...

I agree with the apathetic and ignorant population... but it isn't just students! I'm 39 and it seems that everyone in MY generation doesn't have a CLUE! They don't read papers, they watch CSI instead of CNN, and have the "it's all about ME" attitude. If it doesn't affect them personally, they don't care. If it DOES affect them personally, well, then it is someone ELSE's fault/responsibility to fix it.

One of the reasons I'm starting the Drinking Liberally group here in Gooding is because I want to get more people TALKING and LEARNING about what is going on. Cross your fingers! (So far, setting the group up seems to be reasonably painless... go to www.drinkingliberally.org and it walks you through it! There is one in Boise, one in Moscow, and soon one here in Gooding!)

I'd love to meet you sometime... I see your name a lot! (It sticks out to me because my name is Diana ROWE Pauls!)

Tara A. Rowe said...

The problem with students is it DOES affect them personally and they still don't care.

I'd love to meet you as well!

Del and Rachel Greenhalgh said...
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