Is public education in a better position today than it was seven years ago?

Editor’s note: The author of this “Voices” piece, Debbie Critchfield, is a candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Any candidates running for public office in Idaho are welcome to write their opinion pieces for our publication. We also welcome responses from challengers. Here are submission guidelines. 

The Idaho Constitution directs state officials to provide a free, thorough and uniform public education system. And, as you know, nothing is free. More than 2 billion of your dollars go to education to fulfill that Constitutional charge. You send your hard-earned dollars to Boise with the belief that elected officials will make decisions that support your expectations. This makes Idaho’s superintendent THE leader for our statewide vision.

I sat at the state education table for years and still couldn’t answer my own questions about the vision for K-12 education. That was a problem for me and should be a problem for you. So, I encourage you to ask yourself if the state’s top education official has put public education in a better position today than it was seven years ago? For me, the answer to that question was no. This answer led me to run for office.

My vision for education is to connect schools to students, families and communities and support high quality learning environments for all. I seek to empower parents, support local boards and student outcomes. I will do that with honesty, transparency, and wise solutions.  My message has three important themes. I want to restore the value of education, unite our efforts for student outcomes, and protect our investments in education.

I want you to know and feel the value of education. And I want you to know and feel that Idaho values are embedded in our education system. I will lead an honest conversation about where we need to go, how we get there and who participates in the process.

We must create relationships with parents, educators, business and industry, education stakeholders, and legislators that re-establishes trust and unites our objectives. My years of experience have prepared me to do just that.  Education cannot operate in silos.

I will be a responsible steward, accountable to taxpayers and those we serve in education. There has been little attention or follow up to assess return on investment, among other leadership gaps in budgeting. Even more troubling is carelessness with taxpayer dollars, no transparency, and frivolous lawsuits. Budgeting is a signal for priorities leading up to a legislative session. And, budgeting is how we show you, the investor, that your priorities matter for how we move education in the state.

How we move forward, with focus and purpose, dominates my thoughts, my work and my efforts. And most importantly, my vision.

We need an effective leader with clear direction. I am ready to lead on day one.

Invest in people for change.

I am Debbie Critchfield and I am a candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Debbie Critchfield

Debbie Critchfield

Debbie Critchfield is Idaho's Superintendent of Public Instruction.

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