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Bluum is a nonprofit organization helping Idaho become a national model for how to maximize learning outcomes for children and families.

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Idaho School Districts Utilize Federal Charter School Program Grants to Serve Students

West Ada, Idaho’s largest public school district with 40,000 students, rarely authorizes charter schools. They recently made an exception for Pathways in Education (PIE), an alternative high school opening next month in Meridian. Pathways has run a successful school in nearby Nampa School District for the last eight years. PIE, West Ada’s third district-authorized charter school recently received a $529,000 grant from Bluum, part of the nonprofit’s federally funded Building on Success charter school program, serves students facing a range of challenges that makes dropping out a likely outcome. The funding for the Bluum program comes from the U.S. Department of Education Charter School Program. Last year, Bluum received a $24.9 million CSP grant. That follows on the $22.5 million grant it received in 2018 and successfully administered over five years.

Becoming a Marine: Learning Experience for Educators

My colleague, Ashley Cotton, and I recently had the privilege of attending a weeklong educator’s workshop hosted by the Marine Corps at the Recruit Depot in San Diego. The workshop was an exclusive opportunity for over 50 selected leaders, coaches, directors, administrators, and educators from across the country to experience firsthand the transformative journey of young civilians into Marines.Throughout the workshop, we received the most current information about Marine Corps training practices, explored different military occupational specialties (MOS), discussed service options, practiced a military lifestyle, and learned about the different educational opportunities available to Marines.

Seeking Balance: Authorizers Work to Adapt to Idaho’s New Public Charter School Law

As the founder and leader of the high-performing Compass Public Charter School in Meridian, Kelly Trudeau sees a lot to like in Idaho’s newly updated public charter school law. In particular, Trudeau is fond of a provision that provides established successful schools like hers with a 12-year charter renewal if Compass demonstrates strong academic performance and solid financial and operational systems. Schools performing at a less optimal level can get a renewal term of six years.“We are performing well as a school and we don’t have any financial issues,” Trudeau said of her 19-year-old K-12 school. “If that’s the case, why should we not be granted some kind of meaningful benefit?”

Advancing Fairness in Special Education through Public Charter School Collaboration

Last week, the Center for Learner Equity (CLE) convened national thought leaders in special education to address a critical question: “Why does our public education system accept the failure of students with disabilities?” Recent Civil Rights Data shared at the event revealed a stark reality: while around 85% of special education students are capable of meeting grade-level proficiency standards, only 30% of educators believe this to be true.The event, “Move Together: A Call to Action to the Charter Ecosystem for Students with Disabilities,” sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, brought together over 150 stakeholders from various sectors including authorizers, policymakers, school leaders, parents, students, and nonprofit organizations.

The Sky Hasn’t Fallen: Alternative Teacher Certification in Idaho Public Charter Schools

Idaho has a thriving charter school sector with over 30,000 students enrolled in one of the state’s 70+ schools. It features some of the highest-performing schools in the state, but until recently charters had little choice but to hire teachers certified through traditional schools of education. Some teachers obtained interim certificates through Teach for America or the American Board of Certification for Teacher Excellence (ABCTE) that allowed them to teach for three years. But charters had no authority to design their own teacher preparation pathways, or to hire people with a wealth of life and professional experience but no teaching degree. While Idaho created a more streamlined, low-cost, online certification program through the College of Southern Idaho in 2018, aimed primarily at certifying and retaining rural educators, charter advocates say it did not provide a more customized approach that many charter schools desire or require.

Gem Innovation Schools Holds Large Promise for Success

In the ever-shifting world of school choice, what began as a homegrown charter-school network’s small experiment in microschooling stands out as unique—and as a uniquely promising model for replication. Gem Prep, a network of seven brick-and-mortar K–12 charter schools in rural Idaho, anchored by a longstanding and high-performing online school, launched an experiment called Learning Societies at the start of the 2022–23 school year. Two publicly funded Learning Societies opened in August 2022, one in the hamlet of Emmett, 30 miles northwest of Boise, with 22 students in grades 1–5, and the other in Lewiston in northern Idaho, with seven students in grades 1–5. The basic idea is this: Some parents who, for a variety of reasons, hesitate to send their children to a traditional brick-and-mortar school have neither the time, inclination, or temperament to homeschool or to monitor a full-time online program.

North Idaho Classical Academy Set to Open in 2025

Sheraya Hauck grew up in Bonners Ferry in far north Idaho and was homeschooled by her parents. Her son attends kindergarten at a small private Christian school that opened just this year in town. Sheraya never thought she would consider a public school for her son, or her one-year-old daughter. She believed her family’s values clashed with what was taught in most public schools. Then she heard about the North Idaho Classical Academy public charter school, scheduled to open near Bonners Ferry in August 2025. She became one of the founding group of parents. She is all in on sending her children there. “I always knew that I would never put my children into the mainstream flow of public education,” she said. “People used to ask me all the time what I’m going to do because I have a career, so I can’t really homeschool.”