Typically, in the run-up to the primary election, the IEA’s Political Action Committee for Education (PACE) only endorses primary election candidates.
However, in this year’s race for Superintendent of Public Instruction, one candidate stood above all others running in either of the May 17 party primaries. Because of the importance of this role to Idaho’s students, public schools and educators, this candidate earned committee’s endorsement as the best pro-public education choice for voters in November’s general election. As a result, there is no IEA superintendent candidate endorsement in the May 17 Republican Party primary election.
Here’s a quick summary of PACE members’ impression of each candidate in the Superintendent of Public Instruction race and notes on their endorsement choices:
DEMOCRATIC PARTY CANDIDATE
Terry Gilbert — ENDORSED BY IEA
Terry Gilbert is a former educator, school board trustee and President of the Idaho Education Association from 1977 to 1978. Terry is opposed to school voucher schemes and believes schools must be better resourced via both funding, institutional support and programmatic support. He believes Idaho students should be prepared to compete on a global stage and believes Idaho’s public schools should compete with the best in the nation. Gilbert is a strong advocate for public education, and he has earned the IEA’s endorsement, along with our deep appreciation for his lifelong service to Idaho educators, families, and students. Gilbert is running unopposed in the Democratic primary.
REPUBLICAN PRIMARY CANDIDATES
Critchfield has served on the Cassia County School Board and as both president and a member of the State Board of Education, among numerous other roles in the public education system. Critchfield’s stated priorities are properly funding public education, providing more local control to districts and parents, and increasing school choice. Critchfield is an advocate for public schools and promises to be a strong partner for public education if elected. Her work on her local school board and on the Idaho State Board of Education has shown her to be a pro-public education candidate. The IEA was unable to endorse her candidacy due to her stance on school vouchers, which, while nuanced, is a red line in the sand for professional public educators.
Durst is a professional mediator who has levied unsubstantiated claims of “indoctrination” in Idaho public schools and is a proponent of using tax dollars to fund private school tuition. According to his website, his priorities are to end Common Core, stop “Critical Race Theory,” and siphon tax dollars from public education to private and parochial schools. Durst has been a critic of Idaho’s public education system, using unsubstantiated claims of “indoctrination” to promote the defunding of public schools. He regularly attacks and undermines Idaho educators, and his personal demeanor in these conversations, be they with legislators or everyday Idahoans, disqualified him from consideration for IEA’s endorsement.
Sherri Ybarra – INCUMBENT
Superintendent Ybarra is running for a third term as Idaho Superintendent of Public Education. A former educator and administrator, Ybarra’s stated priorities include improving Idaho’s education metrics, maintaining in-person learning for students, promoting career-readiness, and increasing school choice. Ybarra is running in the Republican primary. The IEA has worked with the Superintendent’s staff to accomplish great things for educators and students. Superintendent Ybarra is a former educator and understands many of the issues educators face. That being said, the IEA has a high standard for educational progress, and the past two terms of Ybarra’s incumbency have not met the high standard needed for IEA’s endorsement in this race.