In 2019, Madison School District’s five-year graduation rate hit 93.3%. In the Sugar-Salem School District, 98.4% of students earned their high-school diploma. These impressive results come from a strong network of parents, educators, and community members invested in student success. On top of hitting the books, students in Madison County excel in school sports.
Our student-athletes represent the best and brightest this state has to offer. Just last weekend, the Sugar-Salem girls’ basketball team won the 3A state tournament AND the state academic championship. The Sugar-Salem boys’ basketball team hopes to repeat their success when they head to Boise next month.
These results reinforce why the drafters of Idaho’s constitution included this language:
The stability of a republican form of government depending mainly upon the intelligence of the people, it shall be the duty of the legislature of Idaho, to establish and maintain a general, uniform and thorough system of public, free common schools.Idaho Constitution, Article IX, Section 1
Since approving our constitution on July 3, 1890, we the people have not amended this duty. But that hasn’t stopped some members of the legislature, including one of Madison County’s representatives, from trying to undermine our “public, free common schools.” Ron Nate claims he’s “a strong advocate for Idaho schools and teachers.” But his record tells a different story.
From improving K-3 literacy1 to increasing teacher pay2, he’s failed our students and our teachers over and over. Earlier this month, he voted against funding school lunches3—again4. It’s hard to learn on an empty stomach (I doubt Ron misses many meals). But he really failed our teachers when he voted “No” on H443,5 legislation that offers teachers and classified staff access to Idaho’s state health insurance.
One of his reasons? In his opinion, the bill went through the wrong committee. Nate allowed petty partisan politics to undercut our teachers and staff.
Madison County deserves better. Our students deserve better. Our teachers deserve better.
If we want our schools to succeed, they need continued support. I upheld my oath of office by working on and carrying critical education budgets on the House floor. I reached out to parents, teachers, and school boards to listen and learn what they needed from the legislature to support our students. Instead of using a technicality as an excuse to vote “No,” I worked with other legislators to fulfill our constitutional duty to “maintain” our public schools.
Of course, we want our schools to improve. But room for improvement doesn’t mean that Madison County’s schools deserve less than complete support from our legislators. What about other school districts with less success? We are responsible to those students to ensure their schools reach the ambitious standards we expect.
Our schools sit at the heart of the community. In the fall, we see the football stands packed with fans, and in the spring, we see parking lots fill up for the new school play. We are a community that places a high priority on education. I promise you I share that goal and commitment when it comes to serving Madison County.
 (H526, 2016)
 JFAC, 2-4-22
 (S1116, 2015)
 (H443, 2022)