GOP state superintendent’s candidate Sherri Ybarra is defending her decision to not attend the annual Idaho Association of School Administrators conference this week — and she says she had already committed to attend a superintendents’ meeting that will be hosted by the State Department of Education Thursday.
“An Idaho Education News story was critical of me for not attending a three-day conference for education vendors and administrators,” Ybarra said. “I had already committed to attending the state superintendents’ conference meeting this Thursday, which is in line with the current duties of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction and with my current job responsibilities. The IASA tutorial conference also coincided with the first week back to school and I unfortunately couldn’t attend both events.”
Ybarra is not listed on the agenda to speak or answer superintendents’ questions during Thursday’s meeting.
IdahoEdNews.org reported Monday that Ybarra declined an invitation to speak to superintendents at the IASA conference. Democratic candidate Jana Jones accepted the invitation and faced education leaders in a question-and-answer session.
Ybarra, the federal programs director for the Mountain Home School District, was in downtown Boise on Monday morning having coffee while the IASA conference was taking place. Ybarra said she was waiting to meet with a Republican legislator and her schedule was too busy to attend the IASA conference, attended by 460 administrators.
Jones criticized Ybarra’s absence.
“The only way to know what the issues are and what we’re facing is to have an opportunity to hear (from educators) their questions and hear their concerns,” Jones said. “How hard you work on the campaign is indicative of how hard you are going to work as state superintendent.”
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Also Monday, Bonneville School District Superintendent Chuck Shackett said he will cross party lines to support Jones in the election. Shackett knows Jones and once tried to hire her. The IASA superintendent of the year has never met Ybarra and he didn’t hide his disappointment that Ybarra snubbed the IASA’s invitation.
Here is the text of Ybarra’s news release:
Idaho GOP candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra is attending the 2014 Idaho Superintendents conference meeting this week, Thursday in Boise. Ybarra says Idaho educators will be discussing tiered licensure, the star rating system, task force updates, Smarter Balanced testing, and professional development on the Common Core, and she plans to attend to speak one-on-one with superintendents and other educators in attendance.
Ybarra stated differences are already appearing between her plans for leading Idaho’s schools and that of her Democrat opponent. “Earlier this week, an Idaho Education News story was critical of me for not attending a three-day conference for education vendors and administrators,” said Ybarra. “I had already committed to attending the state superintendent’s conference meeting this Thursday, which is in line with the current duties of the state superintendent of public instruction, and with my current job responsibilities. The IASA tutorial conference also coincided with the first week back to school and I unfortunately couldn’t attend both events.”
In referring to the Idaho Education News article, Jana Jones said, quote, ‘We need to make sure we have funding moving forward — then talk about doing other things.” Ybarra observed the clear differences between the campaigns. “My opponent is more concerned about revenue and raising taxes with a decade-old formula, which is unrealistic, than she is about actual educational reforms that will benefit Idaho students and their parents,” said Ybarra. For example, Ybarra said, she will work with the Idaho Legislature on reforms of the Common Core standards where needed, particularly with regard to testing. “My opponent is rigid in her support for Common Core,” Ybarra noted, pointing to the same article. “There are many ways we can improve our system and Common Core without raising taxes; I will work effectively with the Idaho Legislature, the Land Board, our education system, the IEA, and parents and students to implement those improvements,” said Ybarra. Ybarra has already met with several members of the Idaho Legislature in this regard.
“We need a new, collaborative approach; not a rehash of old ideas that have failed our students,” Ybarra said. “I apologize to administrators who I did not meet with but look forward to aggressively working with all stakeholders about new approaches vs. old approaches that will most benefit our children.” Ybarra’s supports adequate funding for education; however, she is very student-centered and will maintain a vision on her top three priorities including 21st century abilities; assessments, and safety and support, which she believes can enhance our revenue and show high returns on our investment. She is also very confident that she will be able to work with our Idaho legislators on a vision for the future for our educational system.