Voices from the Idaho EdNews Community

Student success requires teachers and parents 

Debbie Critchfield, candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Educators deserve to be heard and trusted, paid competitively, and prepared with the tools to support students in any classroom. Idaho educators need clear expectations, simplified roles, and they deserve policies that help them work with all students. Educators want to be successful in their classrooms for students who excel, students who require additional learning supports, and students with behavioral issues. The system needs appropriate, comprehensive, and real accountability so teachers are not solely and unfairly held responsible for a district’s success. 

Teachers need a leader with a voice to be their advocate. I can be that leader. The first six years of my journey began in the classroom as a substitute teacher. This is where I saw the pressures put on teachers by a system that didn’t accurately reflect their teaching successes. I spent the next 17 years working on policies that strengthen the position of the educator; most recently focused on building the career ladder and creating conditions to attract and retain good and needed teachers. 

Dedicated and skilled staffing is critical. Our local districts need a talented labor pool that includes certified and classified staff to teach and operate. That takes a competitive salary and benefits package and a strong talent pipeline. If elected as State Superintendent, I will work to provide solutions to reduce the turnover and unfilled positions that hurt kids and impact student achievement. 

Education should not be teachers versus parents. We are stronger together, and there may be no more powerful example of positive potential than when parents and teachers work together for the good of their students and families. Parents are the first educators of their kids. I want to continue creating meaningful opportunities for parent participation in educational decision-making. My encouragement for parent involvement highlights my confidence in educators as success in the classroom grows when students are supported at home. Supporting parents’ rights and responsibilities while strengthening the role and impact of educators can bring communities together to benefit students and strengthen foundations for the future. 

For the last eight years, I have worked as the communications director for Cassia schools, purposely sharing the good I see in classrooms every day. I’ve seen parent and community support grow when we celebrate successes. I share this to reaffirm my confidence and highlight my experience serving multiple interests and closing divides. That’s what a leader does. 

I hear Idaho education calling for the effective use of each dollar as an investment in classrooms and students. Idaho is growing with legitimate economic expansion. We need a more worthy discussion of a sustainable and dependable funding model that addresses schools’ current issues and parental choice. I’ll work towards funding solutions that represent the cost of educating a child in the present context with resources that match local community expectations. 

All of us, parents and teachers alike, have faced monumental challenges over the past two years. I’ve seen schools and communities work together to overcome these challenges. Many parents have increased their respect, appreciation, and advocacy for teachers and helped their kids know the value of what teachers do. 

As your State Superintendent of Public Instruction, I will bridge the gap between the dinner table and the classroom. I will be the leader who effectively advocates for teachers and parents and works on complex issues with a vision for the future. For 17 years, I have listened, learned, and worked to include the educator’s voice in decision-making while being a champion for the shared interests of teachers and parents. We have the same goal: Put kids first. The future of our communities depends on the success of our kids. 


Debbie Critchfield

Debbie Critchfield

Debbie Critchfield is Idaho's Superintendent of Public Instruction.

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