I’ve saved my toughest column for last.
I am stepping down as Statesman editorial page editor, to take a writing position with Idaho Education News. I will start my new job on Monday, Jan. 21, and my last day at the Statesman will be Friday, Jan. 18.
Let me start with a few words about Idaho Education News — and the exciting adventure that awaits.
Idaho Education News is a new, independent and statewide go-to source for news and discussion about K-12 policy. I’m thrilled to join a talented, experienced team that will have a chance to launch a news site (Idahoednews.org), and focus our attention on the most important issue facing Idaho’s future: the education of our children and grandchildren.
The timing couldn’t be better. After a $6 million campaign, the shape of education reform remains unclear. Education will be a pivotal issue this legislative session — as veteran and first-year lawmakers come to town with their own ideas about improving the school system. And beyond, as Gov. Butch Otter’s task force wades into the reform issue. We will write about the politics of education — but more importantly, we will write about the nuts and bolts of what is going on in the classroom, and encourage a discussion on results and return on investment.
Idaho Education News is housed under the Center for School Improvement and Policy Studies at Boise State University’s College of Education, and funded through a grant from the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation. I’m grateful to the university and the foundation for their vision and generous commitment to this project.
It would take an opportunity this exciting, this exhilarating, to lure me away from this job and this page. For more than 11 years, I’ve had a great time here, writing opinions on everything that struck me as interesting, important, ironic or outrageous. I’ve had the chance to preside over a community dialogue — one that has spread from this page to my blog, to Twitter and to Facebook (venues we couldn’t have contemplated on my first day, back in 2001).
I owe thanks to too many people to name. To the publishers and editors who had my back and gave me the latitude to grow into the job. To my talented colleagues who have made me a better writer and editor. To the remarkable community representatives who have volunteered their time and their expertise to help us produce a smarter page.
And to you. If you’ve ever taken the time to write a letter to the editor or post a comment — or if you’ve picked up the phone to chew me out or cheer me on — thank you. I’ve learned a lot from you.
It’s someone else’s turn to hop on the ride. I’ll be editing and tying up loose ends these next few days, but I’m recusing myself from the editorial process — including, for instance, Tuesday's editorial on Otter’s state of the state address. Since I’m moving back into reporting, it’s only appropriate that I step back from opinion writing.
Which leads to the elephant and the donkey in this room. I know my opinions have rankled many of the political leaders I will now cover — Republican and Democrat alike. I own those opinions, and I won’t back down from them. I don’t know exactly how this transition will work. I do know this much. As an editorial writer, I’ve tried to be tough but fair, letting facts drive the end product. I promise to take the same approach as a reporter.
I don’t view this is as a farewell from the Statesman. Idaho Education News makes its content available to all media, free of charge. I hope you’ll see my byline in this paper soon, in a different capacity.
And I hope you’ll join me in reading this page religiously. This is an important forum for community discussion — every bit as important as ever. It’s been an honor to be a part of it.