This is the second and final installment of a questionnaire posed to candidates for superintendent of public instruction. Idaho Education News readers suggested these questions during a campaign forum in April and we submitted them to Allen Humble, D-Boise, Jeff Dillon, R-Wilder, Cindy Wilson, D-Meridian and Sherri Ybarra, R-Mountain Home. The responses are in the candidates’ own words, and have not been edited. The first installment of the questionnaire published Wednesday.
What is your position on state funded pre-kindergarten in Idaho? Do you support giving all public school students access to pre-K?
This needs to be address very quickly. I would not mandate pre-kindergarten, but would support an incentive approach. I do not support a one-size fits-all approach in pre-K. This allows for local control not a state mandate.
Public provided/funded pre-K across the state for all 20,000 kids; access for all kids.
Public pre-K saves the state money in the long-run and is critical to long-term student success. Studies show that pre-k students are half as likely to be arrested, more likely to get a job, tend to make more money, can pay better attention in class, and are less likely to get sick. Many Idaho families need this option.
Research is clear: every dollar we invest in early learning is an 18 dollar return on investment. The measures we are taking this year with our State Board on a project for early learning –Smarty Ants–that is free for the state of Idaho to get a jump-start on early learning into our state, as well as our new reading test—will help fill the need –it is not the answer to early-learning– but it’s a start.
What are your going to do for at-risk and special education students?
As a Superintendent/Principal of an at-risk school and district, this is very high on my radar.
I fully understand what actions need to be taken to better meet the needs of these populations.
I would fight vigorously to assure that funding will support their needs and access to programs.
Insure greater access to Career Technical Programs.
To be determined. Generally full support / expansion to meet needs.
Catching developmental, behavioral, and other difficulties early is the key to effective intervention. Early detection depends in part on public pre-k programs that can leverage the insights of experts who know red flags when they seem them. To do this, we need small class sizes and adequate staffing in every one of Idaho’s public schools.
I am committed to equity for students. I’ve demonstrated that by aligning SDE divisions to assist districts in supporting increased learning and closing the gap for at-risk learners. Some of the strategies include:
- Adopted standards and assessments for special education and English language learners
- Increased state funding for English learner supports
- Aligned state, federal funding to support effective strategies
- Commissioned a research to identify experience of teachers working with these students
How should teacher and school administrator quality be assessed? Then how should those individuals be compensated based on their quality?
I support local control in this area. Not all schools are the same and therefore quality is measured differently.
- Personal evaluations through classroom observation.
- Cohort observations.
- Student evaluations.
- Self evaluations.
- Parent input.
The first step is hiring and retaining the best teachers Idaho can afford. (We are losing too many teachers to other states!) Developing teachers should enjoy mentorship, coaching, and specialized professional development. Like most people, teachers thrive when they are encouraged and empowered with guidance, tools, and a meaningful work environment.
Quality is assessed using multiple measures over time. I support Idaho’s evaluation system that includes review of effective practices and achievement targets set by local educators based on the needs of their students. I have successfully advocated for increased funding for increasing educator pay and to support our goal to recruit and retain quality educators.
What is your plan to increase literacy and help struggling young readers who have fallen short of grade level benchmarks?
- A proactive approach always provides a greater return on investment.
- I don’t buy-in to the belief that all students should all be reading at the same level at the same age in a single moment in time.
- I support individuality with high expectations through personalized learning.
More time with these kids and their parents; resources to be determined. Implement pre-K; possibly as young as 3-years-old, help struggling families to lieve more enriched lives.
We know that the greatest factor in student achievement is effective teaching. With teachers who are well-trained in instructional methods–and whose class sizes remain reasonable–we can catch learning problems early and intervene effectively. This early detection and intervention is also served by early childhood learning programs.
I am grateful for my relationship with the legislature and the investment to improve literacy for all students in Idaho. I have already successfully secured funding for a new IRI (Idaho Reading Indicator) which gives teachers more detail on how to address learning difficulties in our youngest readers, as well as secured funds for expanding services to those students who qualify for extra reading interventions. Now we need to come together to expand our summer reading programs to address the summer reading loss, as well as training for every teacher in K-3, through opportunities such as reading summits, professional development and expanding on our reading coaches.
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