State Schools Superintendent Anne Fox said Thursday she’s charging ahead with her plan to bring Idaho’s schools back to the basics.
“Our children know 26 endangered species, but they don’t know who Abraham Lincoln was,” she told an appreciative group at a People for the West meeting Thursday evening.
Fox said she is planning a statewide “Curriculum Day” next fall, when parents and members of the public in every school district will be encouraged to stop in and tell the state what they think kids should be learning at each grade level.
“If you want them to know the capitals and the states, about Columbus and our forefathers … in a traditional format, you can request that,” she said.
She envisions an open gymnasium filled with tables, with hours like those for an election. People will be able to stop in before or after work or whenever they can, and write down their thoughts.
The results will be used to help build new state curriculum guides. Fox has recalled the old guides.
“It’s a difficult job to help educators understand what the public wants,” Fox said. “For so long, our educators were told at the university that they were the professionals … they were never told to listen to the public.”
Other plans she outlined Thursday included:
Getting college courses for future teachers to include a three-credit course in discipline and specific instruction in teaching phonics.
Training for principals, teachers and school boards on discipline, and training for parents. Fox said she also plans to offer school districts analysis of how discipline is working at a particular school.
Additional student testing. Fox said it now looks like she’ll be able to add five grade levels to the current testing, which now tests students in grades 4, 8 and 11.
Increased focus on students with limited English skills, who are at increased risk of dropping out of school. “Our idea is to shore them up as quickly as possible, get them fluent,” she said.