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. 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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
We have the same goal: Put kids first. The future of our communities depends on the success of our kids.
— Debbie Critchfield is a Republican candidate for Idaho State Superintendent of Public instruction and the former president of the Idaho State Board of Education.