Wood River student paintings spark a political backlash

Paintings at Wood River High School — including several that are critical of President Trump — have started a political backlash on social media.

Even House Education Committee Chairman Lance Clow got in on the debate, emailing Blaine County School District Superintendent GwenCarol Holmes for an explanation.

In her response, forwarded to Idaho Education News’ Clark Corbin, Holmes said students have been painting ceiling tiles at the high school since 2011-12, and their artwork reflects a variety of political viewpoints.

The anti-Trump ceiling tiles — including a variation on the poster from President Obama’s 2008 campaign — have drawn the most scrutiny.

“If this isn’t evidence that there is more indoctrination than education going on,” said Glenneda Russell Zuiderfeld of Jerome, in an April 12 Facebook post.

Zuiderfeld, a Republican who ran unsuccessfully for an Idaho House seat in 2018, urged her followers to contact state superintendent Sherri Ybarra about the paintings.

More than 600 people have shared Zuiderfeld’s post, contacting the district, Ybarra and other elected officials, the Idaho Mountain Express reported Wednesday.

Clow, R-Twin Falls, contacted Holmes on April 13.

“Can you give me a call to visit about what has become a hot issue on public school political displays?” he wrote in an email.

In an April 15 email response, Holmes said the student artwork is an extra credit project. Students are asked to paint about a topic from the past year “that really resonated with them,” and justify their choices.

Those choices fall across the political spectrum, Holmes wrote.

“Not only is there the ‘NOPE’ tile noted in the link you sent, but there is also a tile that positively promotes President Trump’s cutting of regulations,” she said.

In her email to Clow, Holmes attached what she called her favorite tile: one depicting President Lincoln.




Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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