Guest Opinions

Sherri Ybarra: Supporting educators and students is key to success in Idaho’s schools

The Idaho Statesman asked the candidates in major statewide races to submit guest opinions explaining their stances and why they should earn your vote. Their columns will run throughout this week. Read opponent Cindy Wilson’s guest opinion here.

I don’t know how many of you know why I ran for superintendent of public instruction four years ago, but as a mother of a then-junior high student, I was concerned about the direction education was going in Idaho.

As a former teacher, I was disgusted with how teachers were treated under the failed pay-for-performance system; and as a former principal and vice principal, I was disgusted with the name ‘em, shame ‘em and blame ‘em approach to accountability.

As a former district office administrator, I was frustrated when I’d call the State Department of Education, which had evolved into a state bureaucracy, more focused on the needs of politicians than the needs of educators and kids. Frankly, I was fed up with the negative culture around education in Idaho. It was bad for teachers, it was bad for communities, but most importantly it was bad for students.

So I took to heart the American promise that anyone can get involved and run for office to make positive changes in their community, and nearly four years later, I’m proud of the transformation in the department’s service to districts and in the culture around education, and I believe we have significantly improved education in Idaho.

When I ran for this office, I pledged to refocus the work to be more supportive, and my team and I crafted this mission to guide our transformation of the department: “Supporting Schools and Students to Achieve.”

We identified three goals and faithfully implemented a five-year plan to improve K-12 education, which was crafted by stakeholders.

  • All Idaho students persevere in life and are ready for college and careers.
  • Idaho attracts and retains great teachers and leaders.
  • All education stakeholders in Idaho are mutually responsible for accountability and student progress.

Our plan to improve education is getting results. For example, Idaho’s students’ math and reading skills are improving, our graduation rates are up, and thousands of students are getting a jump-start on higher education by earning college credits while still in high school. Our public schools are headed in the right direction, and it’s essential for the future of our more than 300,000 students that the positive momentum continues.

Idaho’s schools need an experienced, effective advocate for kids, and during the past four years, I’ve proved I’m that leader. I’m Sherri Ybarra, and I humbly ask for your vote on Nov. 6.

Incumbent Sherri Ybarra was elected Idaho superintendent of public instruction in 2014 and is running for re-election. She is a former teacher, principal and administrator.
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