Policymakers | Costs

Study gives Idaho higher ed F’s for education, cost, intellectual diversity

IDAHO REPORTER   |  January 20, 2011 by Editorial

A new study says Idaho is failing its students at public universities and colleges by increasing tuition, not requiring a broad range of coursework, and limiting the free exchange of ideas.

The report card from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) and Idaho Freedom Foundation has several prescriptions for schools.  It recommends that four-year public institutions require students to take seven courses it calls a core curriculum: English composition, literature, foreign language, math, economics, science, and U.S. government or history.  The study also suggests that schools reduce administrative spending rather than money going to student instruction.

“Idahoans depend on their universities to ensure students have a functional knowledge of core subjects,” the study says.  “They depend on these universities to be places where ideas and opinions are expressed freely and explored with academic integrity.”

The study did give a passing grade to the Idaho State Board of Education’s structure and transparency, though it found fault with its actions to improve academic quality and control costs.

ACTA has issued similar report cards to public universities in Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri and Georgia, also giving those states F’s for cost and intellectual diversity.  ACTA’s Heather Lakemacher, one of the co-authors of the report, will meet with state policymakers Wednesday and Thursday to discuss the findings, which include a survey of University of Idaho students, in which a majority of students say some course readings present only one side of a controversial issue.


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