Branden Durst

Superintendent of Public Instruction

Biography & Background

This race boils down to two competing visions for the future of Idaho education. One vision is pushed by education insiders with decades of experience in the education establishment who believe in doubling-down on an education system that has failed many parents. The other vision, my vision, is that of an education outsider, who wants to put parents back in the driver’s seat of their children’s education.

My name is Branden Durst and I am a Christian, husband, father of five and the conservative for state superintendent. I am being supported by nearly every conservative organization in Idaho and have received votes of support from multiple GOP central committees including Kootenai and Bonneville. I am committed to restoring parents to their rightful place as the decision makers in their children’s education.

I believe we need new leadership to lead our schools. Someone who isn’t entrenched in the education establishment, but rather someone who is on the outside with the knowledge and ability to make the changes our schools desperately need. I am that candidate.

My Republican bona fides are clear. I have donated to more Republican candidates in the last decade than both of my opponents combined. I have served as a delegate to the state convention, written part of the Idaho GOP platform and volunteered countless hours for Republican and conservative causes and candidates.

Professionally, I have been a small business owner, child custody mediator,
community college instructor, curriculum developer, licensed pastor and more. I also served in the legislature in both the House and the Senate, including service on the education committees in both chambers.

Academically, I earned a bachelor of arts in political science and a master of public administration in public policy. I’ll earn an education specialist degree in executive educational leadership in May.

I am committed to fighting for parents and do what needs to be done to fix our education system. I hope to earn your vote on May 17.

Let’s go Branden!

Top 3 Issues:

1. School Choice – Money Follows Students. Like many of you, as a parent I am very concerned by what I’ve experienced with my children’s education the past two years. Unfortunately, many parents are trapped by their zip code or bank account in a school that just isn’t working for them or their children. I believe it is far past time for Idaho to be a leader in education choice. That is why I have proposed legislation to have money follow students to their parent’s school of choice. It doesn’t matter where you live, school choice should be and can be an option for you. For those in rural Idaho, school choice can be implemented a variety of ways including through microschools, where families group together and hire their own teacher to teach the curriculum of their choice. If you can find 10 willing students, you can have a microschool. That is possible everywhere in Idaho. The proposal also fixes our broken school funding model that unfairly favors some districts over others. For example, right now if you live on the wrong side of Cloverdale Road in Ada County, you could see the amount of state support for your student drop by as much as 25% compared to the school district on the other side of the street. If your child attends a charter school? It’s even worse in many cases. My plan would increase or maintain the per pupil funding of nearly 90% of all Idaho public school students and would increase or maintain the per pupil funding for over 95% of all public school districts and charter schools. Rural schools would always be protected from seeing a decrease in their per pupil funding. It would also give parents more choice by providing them an Education Savings Account (ESA) of approximately $4100 to spend at the school(s) of their choice, whether that be their local public school, charter school, private school or microschool. ESAs also cut the link between the government and private institutions, protecting the private institutions from government intrusion and overreach. We can do better for our parents, students, taxpayers and education professionals. To view the proposal, visit durstforidaho.com/EPEA
2. Stop CRT. We’ve all seen the reports – social justice indoctrination entering the classrooms at both the K-12 and post-secondary levels. The legislature and others claimed “mission accomplished” last year when they passed HB 377, which supposedly was going to stop CRT. In fact, no district or teacher that had been teaching CRT or other social justice indoctrination stopped because the law was designed to be toothless. This is an insidious threat upon our families and schools. While my opponents have stood idly by as education insiders and in one case even pushed for a social justice indoctrination policy (DEI) as president of the state board of education in June 2021, I have stood firm in my opposition to these destructive concepts. As your state superintendent I will propose a state board policy that will create a cause of action to terminate teachers and professors who, after multiple opportunities for coaching, refuse to stop indoctrinating students. This is a constitutional issue. Article IX, Section 1 of the Idaho Constitution tells us that we have a public education system to protect our republican form of government. Nothing is more antithetical to that objective than these divisive and hateful social justice indoctrination theories. They must be stopped and it will take a leader who is not afraid of the vicious attacks that will come from the education establishment. And to that I say, “Here I am, send me.” Watch an under cover video of it being disguised In Idaho at https://fb.watch/c0iiPOlzBS/
3. End Common Core. Common Core has been destructive to our students, parents and schools. That is why I have made its dismantling a top priority. Just like with CRT, the legislature is again claiming to have ended Common Core with legislation this past legislative session. And just like with CRT, this new law related to Common Core also doesn’t do what politicians are claiming. While I appreciate that my advocacy to end Common Core has resulted in this action by the legislature, the fact is that Common Core is still alive and well in Idaho. How do we know? Because the many corporations who profit off Common Core didn’t’ send their lobbyists to fight this new law. If the legislation had actually ended Common Core, really ended it, there would have been many lobbyists pushing hard to save it. They were absent because they know what the state superintendent and some legislators don’t want you to, which is that this is just window dressing meant to score some political points. We must really end Common Core because it is dividing parents from students. It is pushing a testing regiment (SBAC) that is both expensive and ineffective. And it creates data privacy issues for your students that will follow them for the rest of their lives. We all know that Common Core has got to go, but we need real leadership to make it happen, not political games by a state superintendent who fears for her reelection.

Integrity in Affiliation

Submission: Yes

“I have read the Idaho Constitution and the Idaho Republican Party Platform. Except for the provisions specifically noted below, I support the Idaho Republican Party Platform and accept it as the standard by which my performance as a candidate and as an officeholder should be evaluated. I certify that I am not a candidate, officer, delegate or position holder in any party other than the Republican Party.”

Section 3(C) – I don’t support the repeal of the 17th Amendment.
Section 4 (A) – Given the complexity of the 21st Century economy, I question the wisdom of returning to the Gold Standard. Certainly, the decision to end the Bretton Woods System was foolish, but return to a Gold Standard now is likely impracticable.

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