Summer kicks off with a string of holidays: Memorial Day, Flag Day and then the big one—Independance Day! I love the flags that abound and all the red, white and blue bunting.

One of the things that makes me proud to live in the United States of America is the role it played in the creation of a universal education system. It was the first system in the world to embrace providing a free and excellent education to all children. We were the first to dream big and invest greatly in all our children. Our education system has continued to develop to ensure that all children grow up to be productive citizens. Our system is intended to keep our country great and move our country forward. We can all cite examples of how our extraordinary system has played a critical role in doing the impossible: providing an education to students that overcome incredible difficulties and then become the adults that continue to create America’s greatness.

Horace Mann believed that a system of education should be universal, nonsectarian and free, and that its aims should be social efficiency. He called education “the great equalizer of the conditions of men.” However, former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan pointed out that the inverse can be true as well: “Students who receive a poor education, or who drop out of school before graduating, can end up on the wrong side of a lifelong gap in employment, earnings and even life expectancy.” As the Blaine County community, we too must grapple with what we want our education system to be.

Do we want a system that truly strives to ensure that all our students master the rigorous Idaho Content Standards?

Do we want a system that truly strives to inspire and engage all our students, regardless of their attitude or previous experiences with “school?”

Do we want a system that truly strives to empower all our students to be emotionally intelligent, caring and kind in their every word and deed?

The Blaine County School District is committed to those ideals. Our staff dedicate themselves daily to this quest. This work is massive and difficult. However, we continue to embrace this calling.

Blaine County students continue to perform above their peers in almost all grade levels and the overall proficiency rate in English language arts and math increased again this year. The gap between Hispanic and white subgroups remains. Therefore, we continue to relentlessly focus on helping all students achieve at the highest levels. I’m grateful to all those on the BCSD staff and in the community who are committed and working to ensure that all students succeed.

GwenCarol Holmes is superintendent of the Blaine County School District.

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