We have the privilege of serving some of Idaho’s finest school leaders in helping them educate and support their thousands of families and students. In 2021, the real heroes in our orbit were our 30 plus partner schools and their teams. These education warriors dealt with myriad pandemic disruptions, frustrations and setbacks. Many had to deal with personal sickness and the scare of having COVID-19 in their own homes, they had to worry about their teachers and their students. They had to battle learning loss, student malaise, and the general exhaustion and frustration of living in a pandemic that refused to end.
Our annual report this year is dedicated to these educators in our partner schools. The activities we describe in our report could not have been possible without the sweat, toil, bravery, devotion and energy of these dedicated educators. Two data points generated by the FDR Research team as part of our Federal Charter School (CSP) program grant captures the excellence of our school partners: 89% of their parents trusted their school “to do what is right for their child,” while 90% of their parents believed their child’s school “did an excellent/good job during COVID-19.”
We are so proud to support and serve these hard-working people as they continue to provide an essential education to Idaho’s students.
WE EMPOWER LEADERS
We empower educational leaders in the Gem State by providing a one- to two-year Idaho New School Fellowship to those who take risks and put children first. Bluum has recruited top talent to the ranks of Idaho’s public charter school leadership cohort, and this year, we added two new faces. Logan Waetje will lead Elevate Academy East Idaho, and Adam Bruno will open Gem Prep: Twin Falls. We are excited to see all they will accomplish during their fellowship as they work to improve student achievement and expand school choice options for families in their communities.
Idaho Falls educator Logan Waetje will become the 20th Bluum Idaho New School Fellow when he starts his Fellowship in early July to work with the Elevate Academy team in launching a school in 2023.
Adam Bruno is currently a Secondary Social Studies teacher at Gem Prep: Nampa, and as an Idaho New School Fellow, is working with the Gem Prep leadership team and Bluum to launch a Gem Prep school in Twin Falls in 2023.
WE EMPOWER CHOICE
We empower education choice for families by supporting right-fit, high-performing options across 10 Idaho counties. This year, four Bluum partner schools have opened their doors to students, creating 1,978 additional school seats. This includes Cardinal Academy, Gem Prep: Meridian North, Alturas Preparatory Academy, and RISE Charter School. Each school is unique in its own way. We are thrilled to welcome them to our portfolio of partner schools.
WE EMPOWER TRANSFORMATION
We empower transformation to ensure Idaho’s children reach their fullest potential. This year, we have not only shared stories of how our schools are changing the lives of students and families, but have also conducted research and sought data to support and guide our efforts. In 2019, The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation provided funding to 17 Bluum partner schools for families to opt-into full-day kindergarten — free of charge. Beginning in 2021, and for the next three years, Bluum will support the analysis of IRI data for every Idaho school offering full-day kindergarten, in order to garner stronger longitudinal data around the impact on both “kindergarten outcomes” and “kindergarten preparedness.” Another first-of-its-kind study produced in partnership with ECONorthwest, a highly reputable independent economic consulting firm, found that every $1 million in Bluum grants and matching funds generates an additional $1.9 million in economic activity in Idaho. Bluum grants, primarily from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation (JKAF) and the federal Charter School Program, also create 60 jobs for every $1 million spent.
All Day Kindergarten Impact
by Bryan Hassell, Public Impact
“To the extent there’s fadeout, we should be looking at what’s happening in the fadeout grades. Consider this analogy: you’re running a 4 person relay. The first leg runner is really amazing, but then then next three runners fall behind. You wouldn’t react to this by saying “There’s no point in running a great first leg.” You’d say “how can we get better runners in legs 2-4, or better running from the runners we have.”
Cancel Culture vs. Parent Choice
by Terry Ryan
“So can parent and school choice survive “cancel culture”? All I know for sure is that there are a lot of parents hoping that their schools of choice, and the teachers working in them, can weather the latest versions of America’s culture wars. Needy families and children in both red and blue states are depending on it.”
Weighted Student Lottery Strengthens Idaho’s Charter School Pioneer
by Alan Gottlieb
“Having access to a school that uses a weighted lottery so that that school can achieve a mission that is appealing and attractive to the students and the students family is important, as long as the preferences are granted in a very narrow way.”
Next Step Ready
by Lindsay Trombly
“This school is here for the sake of our students’ next steps. What are you going to do when you graduate from here. Even though there is learning in these walls, we work at how they can take this knowledge and apply it outside,” Elevate’s Career Placement Coordinator Brett Williams said.
WE EMPOWER QUALITY
We empower quality of education by assessing the data, researching best practices, and applying feedback from our families and teachers. This year The FDR Group interviewed 1,489 parents and 322 teachers from 12 Idaho charters to see how they felt their charter school’s response was due to the pandemic. There was a positive response overall between parents and teachers.