A Legacy of Education

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Last week, Idaho lost one of its biggest champions of Early Learning.

Governor Cecil D. Andrus, Idaho’s only four-term governor, spent many years advocating and fighting for high-quality early learning. He established part-time, voluntary kindergarten during his tenure which he has been known to say was his “top achievement” as governor.

I was fortunate to meet and get to know Gov. Andrus within my time here at Idaho AEYC.  We had many conversations about how to move preschool here and he was always willing to speak out in support of state investments.  In 2015, he offered to co-host a symposium called Early Learning in Idaho: Finding Common Ground.  He brought together non-partisan partners which included Boise State University Andrus Center for Public Policy, University of Idaho’s McClure Center for Public Policy and various members from organizations and the business community across Idaho who were interested in discussing solutions for investments in high quality early learning.

Idaho AEYC was fortunate to be at the table for the planning and participated in the symposium.  It was a wonderful event that really helped set the stage for large scale discussions across the state.

Every time I would see Gov. Andrus, he would smile a big smile, point his finger at me as he often did and say, “Beth, you keep fighting that fight for early childhood education! We need you to keep doing what you are doing and one day you will get it!”

Because no one would ever think to say “no” to Governor Andrus, that is exactly what we will continue to do. We will keep fighting for high quality early learning opportunities for all young children in Idaho. I’m sad that we won’t have his big voice as we continue down this path, but we will certainly have his spirit to help guide us towards success.

Beth Oppenheimer
Exectuive Director, Idaho AEYC