Op-Ed: The facts – and My Experience – Speak for Themselves
May 9, 2022
The rankings and student achievement facts that I have cited during this campaign have been challenged by both my opponents and some in the media. As a teacher, I'm going to say, "Do your homework!"
One Editorial Board recently said that I “oversell the success of Idaho’s schools using statistics that are not well-supported.” This seems to echo a talking point of my opponents, one of whom publicly claimed she “could not find” the statistics I mention. These rankings and statistics are readily available on the State Department of Education's website and have been widely shared with multiple audiences.
They come from prominent publications and are listed on our most recent Education Outcomes Infographic. These sources are far from obscure -- national news and education organizations including Education Week, US News and World Report, National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships, and ACT College and Career Partnerships. And, these rankings are based on how Idaho students perform on the nationally normed assessments they take each year. This is Idaho's student assessment data. There is nothing "fuzzy" about it.
It’s no exaggeration to say Idaho has enjoyed impressive gains in educational achievement, and the statistics I cite clearly demonstrate how Idaho student performance has improved under my leadership. These strides also result from a collaborative effort between my State Department of Education, the Governor’s Office, and the Legislature.
Some of the highlights:
218,000 college credits earned by Idaho students while in high school (up from 216,000 in 2019).
#1 National Ranking for percentage of high-school students taking post-secondary courses.
108 Idaho high schools graduated 90% or more of their students; 27 schools had 100% graduation rates.
#17 National Ranking for Student Achievement among all 50 states and Washington D.C. (up from #31 in 2016).
#5 National Ranking for Improvement in Students’ Chance for Success between 2020 & 2021.
#2 National Ranking for Student Achievement among six neighboring states.
I agree that we need a “clear, unvarnished view” of the problems Idaho education faces, as well as the achievements. I have that view, courtesy of two decades as an Idaho teacher and district administrator and nearly eight years as Superintendent of Public Instruction.
I know there is much progress yet to be made, and I have great faith in my fellow educators, and in Idaho students and families, to address our issues and propel our achievement to new heights. And, importantly, I have a fantastic team in place at the State Department of Education to help schools and students succeed.
And to those who say that my experience as an educator is not a "critical piece" in leading the Department of Education, I adamantly disagree. One opponent’s leadership experience on the State Board of Education – seven years as a member, the last two as board president -- is not, in any way, comparable, nor can she claim a record of success. And the claim of my other opponent, who says legislative service means more than experience as a K-12 educator, is ludicrous.
I came into office on the heels of a superintendent who had no experience as a K-12 educator. My predecessor was a former school board chair who had big ideas for change, but no experience as a teacher and no apparent understanding or respect for that profession. He survived recall efforts, but his education-reform initiatives were resoundingly rejected by voters. Morale at schools and districts throughout the state plummeted.
When I took office in 2015, my first order of business was to change the culture at the State Department of Education from one of blaming and shaming educators to one of support, service and collaboration. That culture, one of my proudest achievements, has gone a long way toward improving Idaho education and student outcomes.
I have always admitted that I am not a politician. I’m an educator. And, I love my job and feel great pride in what I, my staff and educators throughout the state have accomplished in the past seven-plus years.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, February 21, 2022
CONTACT: Ybarra for Idaho Campaign
State Superintendent Sherri Ybarra Launches Re-Election Campaign
Ybarra: “I’m a teacher, not a politician. In the classroom, my students were my top priority. Now as State Superintendent, I’m still fighting for our students. Idahoans deserve to have a teacher’s voice as superintendent – not another politician.”
Sherri Ybarra today announced her candidacy for re-election as Idaho’s Republican State Superintendent of Public Instruction. “For the last seven years, I have done the job you asked me to do,” Ybarra says.
“As a lifelong teacher, I have come to work every day as an advocate for students. Together we’ve made great progress and Idaho’s schools are on the right track,” Ybarra said. “Today I’m running for re-election because there’s more work to do, and I believe that we can make Idaho a top 10 state in K-12 education!”
Ybarra has committed over two decades to education. Sherri has been a passionate advocate for students since first entering her third-grade classroom over twenty years ago. It was this passion and commitment to Idaho’s young people that would propel her to leadership in several elementary and junior high schools before being elected to State Superintendent in 2014.
As Idaho’s leading voice in education, Sherri has overseen tremendous improvements with: increased 5 year graduation rates, stronger student outcomes, and a renewed commitment to local control. Ybarra has secured targeted investments in literacy funding, technology and educator pay to deliver support where it matters most: our classrooms!
"In my first two terms, Idaho has risen from 31st in the nation for student achievement to 17th. We are now 5th in the nation for college and career readiness. Idaho students’ scores on the ACT and SAT continue to increase, while scores for the rest of the nation decline. Idaho ranks first in the nation for the number of students taking dual credit courses. I am proud that our vision, our leadership, and parental involvement have produced spectacular results!”
As State Superintendent, Sherri has also worked alongside teachers, parents, and local leaders to cut the red tape, block political agendas from entering our classrooms, and empower Idaho families and teachers.
Sherri’s time in the classroom taught her that engaging parents and families was critical to a child’s success. That’s why she has created advisory groups to engage students and families to guide the future of education in Idaho.
Ybarra was elected as Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2014. She brings more than 20 years of experience in all phases of education ---classroom teacher, Vice Principal, Principal, Federal Programs Director and Curriculum Director and Superintendent Ybarra holds a B.A. in Elementary Education, an M.A. in Educational Leadership, and an Ed.S. with an emphasis in the Superintendency. Sherri lives in Mountain Home with her husband, a military veteran and law enforcement officer. Together they have one grown son who attends the University of Idaho.
For more information, please visit YbarraforIdaho.com.
Ybarra for Idaho, Treasurer – Steve Bergherm-11 South Shumway Avenue, Nampa ID 83651 – 208-989-2275