Candidates stake out differences with platform

Andy Grover
Andy Grover

Two candidates for state schools superintendent differ from the Republican Party’s platform on a few education issues.

For example, Melba School District superintendent Andy Grover opposes providing tax credits to parents who keep their children out of public schools.

Meanwhile, Mountain Home educator Sherri Ybarra says she at least wants to research the value of preschool before taking a position.

The Idaho Republican Party asked candidates to fill out statements outlining where they agree with the 14-page state party platform, and where they disagree. The platform includes 11 planks on K-12 and higher education — supporting, among other items, classroom technology, charter schools and school choice,  and “efforts to reward great teachers for their hard work.”

Sherri Ybarra
Sherri Ybarra

The party has posted candidate responses on its website.

Here’s a rundown on the four candidates to succeed retiring state superintendent Tom Luna (the nominee will face Democrat Jana Jones in the November general election):

Grover. He disagrees with the platform on three education-related points.

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  • The GOP platform supports using tax credits to foster parental choice and encourage “competitive options for educating children.” However, Grover says, “Adding a tax credit takes more dollars out of an underfunded education system.”
  • Grover says voter-approved supplemental school tax levies — in place in 94 out of 115 Idaho school districts — shift the burden of school funding from the state to the local level. And that, he says, runs counter to state platform language opposing unfunded mandates: “We expect the government entity which mandates a program to provide the funding for its implementation.”
  • Grover also objects to the platform’s call to abolish the Federal Reserve and backing the U.S. dollar with the gold and silver standard.  Said Grover: “Currently the Federal Reserve guarantees the money schools have in the bank and until that is changed, districts must have a way to protect their money.”

Ybarra. She raises two points related to education and education funding.

  • The GOP platform all but rules out publicly funded pre-K; “only in the rarest of situations should government assume the responsibilities reserved to parents.” But Ybarra says pre-K better prepares students for what awaits them in K-12, specifically by improving their language skills.  “We should look at research while making decisions about early childhood education,” she said.
  • Ybarra says she disagrees with platform language on public lands, which says, in part that the state “should manage and administer all state and federal lands.” But she still supports an enhanced role for the state. “According to the Constitution, the Idaho Land Board will oversee the federal properties, and maximize their financial returns for the beneficiaries, primarily public education.”

John Eynon. The Grangeville resident, a Cottonwood drama and music teacher, says he agrees with the GOP platform in full.

Randy Jensen. The American Falls principal did not fill out the GOP survey.