The state superintendent's race gets a little more crowded

Posted at 11:44 AM, May 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-05 13:44:56-04

This week’s K-12 (and K-12 political) headlines:

Dillon challenges Ybarra. Wilder School Superintendent Jeff Dillon has filed his preliminary paperwork, and plans to take on Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra in the May 2018 Republican primary. In an interview this week, he declined to comment on Ybarra’s job performance, or the relationship between Ybarra’s State Department of Education and local school districts. “I want to focus on what I can bring to the table.”

The money race. Dillon said he jumped in now because he needs to raise money and elevate his statewide profile. But Ybarra’s campaign fundraising was all but non-existent in 2016 — even after she said she planned to seek re-election. She ended 2016 with $92.78 in her campaign war chest, and none of the financial advantages usually enjoyed by incumbents.

And now … civics in the classroom. This is the first year high school seniors must pass a civics test in order to graduate. For the most part, it appears seniors are passing easily — and the first time. But educators say a few seniors will still have to retake the test, and pass it, if they want to receive their diploma this spring.

The congressional budget compromise. Congress approved a 2016-17 spending plan this week, and it includes $68 billion for the U.S. Department of Education. Several K-12 line items received a funding boost — including a before- and after-school program that President Trump wants to eliminate. However, the budget also cuts funding for teacher training, another program on the White House’s chopping block.

“I’m trying to do all I can for my family.” Atirekk Sanasan will graduate alongside his Twin Falls High School classmates this spring. It hasn’t been easy; Atirekk works 25 hours a week to support his family. Still, he will graduate with a 3.90 GPA and 21 college credits, and has a scholarship to attend Dixie University in Utah.


Kevin Richert is a reporter and blogger with Idaho Education News ( Idaho Education News is an independent news site focused on K-12 policy and politics, funded by the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation. Richert has worked in the Idaho news media since 1985, as a reporter, editor and columnist.