Former superintendent candidate shares his expectations for the session

Idaho enjoyed outstanding superintendent leadership when I was in the midst of my work in Idaho education: Republican Jerry Evans, who represented Idaho public schools from 1979 to 1995, and Democrat Marilyn Howard, who served between 1998 and 2004.

Both superintendents guided Idaho public schools with common sense wisdom and a regard for the history of education in our state. Both earned the confidence of the state’s educators — classroom teachers, support professionals and administrators — even in stressful times, and even when education was underfunded.

Idaho is entering a new landscape with a unproven state superintendent, as well as an unproven Legislature, the latter dominated by an extremist Republican Party.

As a candidate for Idaho superintendent, I traveled much of the state and heard what Idaho citizens wanted for their children’s schools.

I am asking the public to hold our legislators and our new superintendent accountable, by evaluating their accomplishments in the 2023 session. I believe their decisions and policies should be evaluated based on their adherence to eight key standards:

  1. Did they achieve adequate funding for our public schools?
  2. Did they develop and fund approaches designed to increase the positive public attitudes of our schools and all educators?
  3. Did they support and fund approaches that enhanced quality early childhood education programs?
  4. Did they create and fund programs that increased Idaho graduation rates?
  5. Did they increase funding that enhanced our vocational education programs?
  6. Did they maintain and improve our public school buildings?
  7. Did they stimulate research and development at our colleges and universities?
  8. And most importantly, did they honor Article IX of the Idaho Constitution that requires the legislature to maintain a general uniform and thorough system of public, free common schools? In other words, did Idaho’s new educational leaders ensure that public funds stayed in public schools?

Our leaders can achieve these eight goals if they are serious about improving Idaho education and are not lured astray by the latest bright and flashy objects in the educational firmament, including vouchers.  Let us see how conservative these people actually are.

I assure you, I will not be the only Idahoan examining their record!

Terry Gilbert

About Terry Gilbert

Terry Gilbert is a former president of the Idaho Education Association and is a Democratic candidate for state school superintendent.

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