Democratic candidate for state superintendent Cindy Wilson pledged to make early childhood education her first priority during a roundtable campaign discussion Tuesday night at Boise State University.
The discussion about education policy and priorities was sponsored by Idaho Education News and Boise State’s Center for School Improvement and Policy studies.
Organizers invited Republican incumbent state superintendent Sherri Ybarra to participate multiple times dating back to June, but Ybarra did not attend.
Idaho EdNews senior reporter Kevin Richert moderated the hour-long event.
Wilson answered a series of questions regarding school funding, school safety, teacher pay, her leadership philosophy and the affordability of higher education (click the video player at the top of the page to watch the full roundtable discussion ).
A group of three panelists asked Wilson many of the questions. The panel included North Star Charter School administrator Shay Davis, Wallace High senior John Webb and Idaho EdNews reported Clark Corbin. Questions were also asked from the audience and Facebook followers.
Moments before Tuesday’s roundtable discussion, Wilson unveiled an endorsement from former Idaho Supreme Court Chief Justice Jim Jones. Jones, a Republican who also served as attorney general, said picking a state superintendent should not be a partisan issue.
Jones also said Wilson would be more engaged as schools chief than Ybarra.
“I know that it takes hard work to advance an agency’s priorities through the Legislature,” Jones said, citing his tenure as attorney general and his 12 years on the Idaho Supreme Court. “You can’t do it without exercising personal leadership and fully engaging with legislative leaders.”
Although Ybarra did not attend Tuesday’s roundtable or last Friday’s East Idaho political forum sponsored by the Idaho Falls City Club, she is scheduled to debate Wilson on Friday. Wilson and Ybarra will engage in the state superintendent’s version of the “Idaho Debates” on Friday. The broadcast begins at 8 p.m. Mountain Time on Idaho Public Television. Both Richert and Corbin will serve on the reporter panel during Friday’s debate.
Ybarra and Wilson square off in the Nov. 6 general election.