Submitted On: Saturday, February 25, 2017
Analyst: Uehling, Karen
The Complete College Idaho plan, also known as “60X20,” aims for “60% of Idahoans ages 25-34 [to] have a degree or certificate by 2020”; 60X20 affects English studies in that 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.
A new higher education task force to support 60X20 was convened by Idaho Governor Butch Otter; the group has 36 members, including Idaho college presidents, representatives from business and industry, legislators, and two students (Corbin). Only one task force member is currently teaching at the college level, former House Minority Leader Wendy Jaquet, now contingent graduate faculty at Boise State University in public administration. None of the Idaho English or math faculty supporting the effort to increase graduation rates are on the panel.
Other efforts to meet 60X20: the governor’s “adult completer” scholarship, “an important part” (Otter) of the 60X20 strategy, has met some opposition. The scholarship would offer $3000 per year to adults who have earned at least 24 credits and been away from school at least three years; it could be used by part-time students and would not displace veterans’ benefits. Yet last year the state "senate killed a similar bill" and opponents argue that it "rewards people for dropping out of school” (Richert).
On the other hand, a recent editorial by Rod Gramer, president of Idaho Business for Education (not on the task force), compares Idaho with Tennessee, also a conservative Republican state. Tennessee’s governor, Bill Haslam, “proposed expanding the state’s ‘Reconnect Scholarship’ to give more working adults a chance to go back and finish their postsecondary education. The Reconnect Scholarship builds on the  ‘Tennessee Dream’ legislation” that “gives every high school graduate a chance to attend a community college or technical school tuition-free”; the expansion to working adults was met with “a standing ovation from the GOP-dominated [Tennessee] Legislature” (Gramer). Gramer notes the success of the Tennessee program and describes how education could benefit Idaho citizens and the gross domestic product of Idaho.
Another piece of 60X20: a possible new community college, the College of Eastern Idaho, developed from the current Eastern Idaho Technical Institute. That college moved closer to reality when the Idaho State Board of Education approved a community college district in Bonneville County. The state is offering “$5 million in startup costs,” but taxpayers in Bonneville County would have to vote to increase property taxes, and a bond to get the project going requires a two-thirds majority (Bodkin).
Bodkin, Devin. “State Board Approves Community College District in Bonneville County.” Idaho Education News. 27 Jan. 2017.
Complete College Idaho Plan
Corbin, Clark. “Otter Names His Higher Education Task Force.” Idaho Education News. 1 Feb. 2017.
Gramer, Rod. “Education Changes Lives and Economic Futures.” Idaho Education News. 20 Feb. 2017.
Otter, C.L. (Butch). "State of the State and Budget Address." 9 Jan. 2017.
Richert, Kevin. "Statehouse Roundup.” Idaho Education News. 15 Feb. 2017.