Monday, February 27, 2006

Yes, They Can Care Less About Education

Recently I asked the question, Idaho Legislators could you possibly care any less about education? Well, I didn't really expect to get an answer, but I did. Bright and early this morning I turned on the computer and checked my email...biggest mistake of the day. Right there in my inbox was an email from the Idaho Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis regarding S1406, the proposed legislation to place a student non-voting member on the State Board of Education.

First, here is what I had to say to him, as well as the other members of the Senate State Affairs Committee following the disappointing vote Friday morning:

To the Honorable Members of the State Affairs Committee:

Wednesday I had the opportunity to attend a Rally for Higher Education at Idaho State University. Our message fell on deaf ears last semester at a similar rally and again, fell on deaf ears Wednesday. It continues to fall on deaf ears today as I have learned that the Senate State Affairs Committee has defeated a bill proposing a student (non-voting member) be allowed to sit on the State Board of Education.

Personally, I would like to ask the senators who voted against this bill where you went to school? I received my entire public education right here in Idaho schools. I attended school in both Bannock and Cassia County, having spent considerable time at Marsh Valley and graduating from Declo High School. If truly the issue the committee has with S1406 is the fact that the State Board represents K-12 as well, I would remind you that each student who would even apply for the position on the State Board attended K-12, most of whom attended Idaho schools, and have continued their education here in Idaho. College students understand the plight of K-12 just as much as they understand the need for higher ed funding. At the rally Wednesday, former Congressman Richard Stallings said something that I didn't want to believe, but am beginning to believe after the committee's decision today, he said that as students we are not a particularly important issue to politicians in Boise.

Please remember that we are not just students, we are the future leaders of this great state.

Tara A. Rowe
Senator, Associated Students of Idaho State University

And of course, the only response I got had to be from the highest ranking Republican in the State Senate and he just had to treat me like an average college kid:


Actually, as a member of the State Affairs committee, I was unable to attend the committee meeting because of a conflict. To be honest, however, if I could have been there, I would have voted against the bill. Let me tell you why.

First, Richard Stallings is partisan (Chair of State Democrat Party), and this is an election year. He will say and do about anything to get his people elected. It is politics, and I understand that. His statements, however, are just flat wrong.

Second, since my father was chairman of the Idaho State Board of Education, student input has increased significantly. Today students enjoy more input than ever. Students can significantly impact the process in many ways, and they do. They need to continue to engage.

Third, as an executive committee, the SBOE is limited in the types of matters that are discussed. As an attorney that represents one of the higher education institutions, I have made presentations involving litigation to the SBOE. In my judgment, any non-voting members should not attend.

Finally, dismissing the K-12 argument doesn't make it any less valuable. If the Governor wants to appoint a student as a SBOE member, he/she can do so now.

Now to answer your question--where did I go to school? Well, I graduated from Idaho Falls High School, having attended all 12 years of school in that school district. By the way, my wife graduated from Skyline High School in Idaho Falls too. As a matter of fact, so did five of our six children and all three of our children-in-law. (We still have an eighth grade daughter at home, who will likely graduate from Skyline like her siblings.) My wife and I have degrees from BYU, and then I have a law
degree from the University of Idaho. My wife has done graduate work at both BYU and ISU. Between my children and their spouses, we have degrees from BYU-I, ISU, BSU, and U of I. (That doesn't count my mother's master and doctorate from ISU.) If you would like I can also outline adjunct faculty positions held at Idaho's universities.

The point I make, somewhat sharply, by this email is that we shouldn't jump to conclusions. Particularly when ginned up by someone that is partisan in their statements. Likewise, SBOE needs input, then a rational analysis of difficult choices. Students can and should participate in that process.

Bart M. Davis
Idaho Senate Majority Leader

There are a couple things about the email from Senator Davis that I find particularly amusing. First, he wasn't even there to vote! Second, Richard Stallings shows up when we have rallies for higher education. He's more than happy to speak. He accepts our invitation. When Senator Davis wants to come down to Idaho State University and sit in a room full of students, then I'd more than welcome any criticism he has of Stallings' comments. Third, no one blasts Stallings in an email to me. There are few, if any, people in the world I admire and respect more than Richard Stallings.

And most importantly by treating me like an average know-nothing college student, Mr. Davis, in your condescending tone, you are only reillustrating to me that you politicians in Boise really don't care about education.


Angela said...

Tara, guess what? I've been in Bart Davis's home. Heck, I've jumped on his trampoline in his back yard. Just thought I'd mention that!

Tara A. Rowe said...

Well I don't think he'll be inviting me over for dinner anytime in the near future! :)

Alan said...

I'm not sticking up for Sen, Davis, but at least he gave you a lengthy reply that took some time. That's more that one typically gets when trying to get info from a politician.

BTW, I graduated from ISU with a Pol Sci degree a few (quite a few) years back.

Tara A. Rowe said...

Thanks, Alan.

Yes, I should give credit to Senator Davis for his time, I did not hear back from my hometown senator or my Bannock County senator on this issue.

But...I'm not willing to budge on the fact that Senator Davis was down right condesending.

Please come back again, Alan.

Alan said...

You can afford to be condescending when you have an absolute lock on your senate seat and don't need to worry about challengers.

I was at ISU when Pi Sigma Alpha was first formed by Stephen Cann and Rick Foster (is that the right name; I think he's the dean of the Pol Sci dept now.) I was also there for the first Statesman of the Year, which went to Frank Church. I remember talking to Church about ABSCAM.

BTW, I have a blog -

Keep up the good work.

Tara A. Rowe said...


I'll have to take a look at your blog.

Rick Foster certainly in the right name. He is no longer the chair of the department and is on sabatical right now. There are few professors here at ISU that I love and respect more than Dr. Foster.

We nominated Clint Stennett this year at Pi Sig for Statesman of the Year, unfortunately the College Republicans far outnumber the College Democrats this year and ugh, Butch Otter won.

Jessica said...

So I guess DWI's help you when you are up for an award.

Matt said...

Butch Otter as man of the year? too funny. The only thing Clement Leroy Otter ever did was marry Jack Simplot's only daughter! He rode his way to the top of the Simplot empire through the marriage and he managed to mess that up! He'd still be working for Simplot if Butch hadn't cheated on his wife for Miss Rodeo Idaho.

Butch Otter doesn't have a high school education. I bet he doesn't even have a passport. He showed us his scruples when he voted against hurricane Katrina relief. He supported Bush's idea to sell off 15% of Idaho's Wild Lands to raise a mere $800 million for America's rural communities. How about we just end the war in Iraq? we are spending $1.5 billion a week! Selling off our lands would cover 3 more days of fighting so I guess we could wait 3 more days before we pulled out of Iraq.