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Sherri Ybarra

Superintendent of Public Instruction

Biography & Background

Sherri Ybarra
Superintendent of Public Instruction

Sherri Ybarra is Idaho’s Superintendent of Public Instruction. She was elected in 2014 as Idaho’s 25th Superintendent of Public Instruction and re-elected in 2018. Before her election as one of the state’s constitutional officers, she served nearly two decades of service in Idaho schools as a classroom teacher, assistant principal, principal and federal program director. She was recognized as the Mountain Home School District’s “Outstanding Educator” twice.
As Superintendent of Public Instruction, Sherri oversees more than 323,000 students, 801 schools, 115 districts and 75 charter schools. She also serves as an ex-officio voting member and executive secretary of the Idaho State Board of Education, as Chairman of the Board of Idaho Educational Services for the Deaf and the Blind and as a member of the State Board of Land Commissioners.
Sherri earned a B.A. in Elementary Education from West Liberty State College in West Virginia, and two degrees from the University of Idaho: an M.A. in Educational Leadership and an Ed.S. with an emphasis in the superintendency. She is pursuing a doctorate in education.
She lives in Mountain Home with her husband, a federal police officer. Their son graduated from Idaho public schools and is attending the University of Idaho.1. All Idaho children are reading on-grade-level by third grade.

Early literacy is the foundation for the success and achievement of all Idaho students now and in the future.

As a former third-grade teacher, I know how important it is that our Kindergarten through third grade students thoroughly learn the five foundational reading skills – Alphabetic Knowledge, Phonemic Awareness, Vocabulary, Comprehension and Fluency. They need to learn to read by the end of the third grade so they can read to learn for the rest of their lives.

This fall’s statewide results of Idaho’s early reading test showed an overall improvement from the previous fall for our first through third grade students, despite the continued interruptions of the COVID pandemic.

However, results at the kindergarten level show that our youngest students reading readiness was lower than for the previous year’s students, putting incoming kindergarteners at a disadvantage. It is absolutely essential to give children a strong educational foundation as they enter school, and that’s why I support optional full-day kindergarten, prioritized for our students who need it most.

This, along with my focus on dyslexia and providing teachers with the training they need to develop interventions for students with this learning challenge, will be game changers for Idaho students.

I will continue to prioritize training for teachers that helps them identify where students have gaps and challenges and how to provide intervention to address those gaps.

Top 3 Issues:

1. 1. All Idaho children are reading on-grade-level by third grade. Early literacy is the foundation for the success and achievement of all Idaho students now and in the future. As a former third-grade teacher, I know how important it is that our Kindergarten through third grade students thoroughly learn the five foundational reading skills – Alphabetic Knowledge, Phonemic Awareness, Vocabulary, Comprehension and Fluency. They need to learn to read by the end of the third grade so they can read to learn for the rest of their lives. This fall’s statewide results of Idaho’s early reading test showed an overall improvement from the previous fall for our first through third grade students, despite the continued interruptions of the COVID pandemic. However, results at the kindergarten level show that our youngest students reading readiness was lower than for the previous year’s students, putting incoming kindergarteners at a disadvantage. It is absolutely essential to give children a strong educational foundation as they enter school, and that’s why I support optional full-day kindergarten, prioritized for our students who need it most. This, along with my focus on dyslexia and providing teachers with the training they need to develop interventions for students with this learning challenge, will be game changers for Idaho students. I will continue to prioritize training for teachers that helps them identify where students have gaps and challenges and how to provide intervention to address those gaps.
2. 2. Parental involvement is actively encouraged and supported. I am committed to helping parents engage and participate in our public schools to support their children. Research shows that active parent involvement is the single best predictor of student success. We have sought parent involvement for years, and now, we need it, even more! I was saddened and disturbed when the spirited debates that occurred at some school board meetings a few months ago resulted in parents being labeled as “domestic terrorists.” I was compelled to write a strongly worded letter to US Attorney General Merrick Garland last October to push back on this inflammatory rhetoric. As I said to AG Garland, “Properly understood, interactive, emotional debate is a valuable component of today’s educational process and needs. Parents are their students’ most ardent advocates and best protectors, NOT ‘domestic terrorists’.” Parents should absolutely feel free and encouraged to advocate for what is in their children’s best interests. Idaho has numerous laws to ensure parents’ rights are protected in decisions that affect their children. After talking to parent groups in our state, I learned that they know their rights. Idaho parents tell me they need practical tools to engage with their children’s teachers and schools. Therefore, I am preparing to issue a parent “toolkit” with ideas and information on how parents can engage in productive and meaningful ways to improve their children’s educational experience.
3. 3. Idaho attracts and retains great teachers and leaders In addition to parents, the other single most important determining factor in student success is the teacher in the classroom. It is imperative that Idaho continues to recruit and retain the very best educators. If we learned one thing about education over the past two years, it is the importance of in-person, one-on-one interaction between students and teachers. That is why I ran successful legislation to prioritize in-person learning. The significant, national workforce challenges in nearly all sectors, is even more urgent given the teacher shortage in our state before the pandemic. And, as our schools operated under the added stress and workload of the pandemic, we saw many of our districts and charters struggle to fill teaching positions and other jobs. It is essential to continue to improve teachers’ salaries to attract individuals to the profession and reward and retain experienced teachers. We must also ensure that our schools can offer competitive wages and benefits. The teaching profession must be an attractive option to pursue for the best and brightest. I remain committed to implementing the career ladder for teacher salaries, which provides steady, scheduled increases for our educators. It shows educators how they can progress within the profession and includes accountability for student outcomes. Emphasizing these three top priorities: Reading, Parents, and Teachers, together we can take Idaho to a “TOP TEN IN THE NATION” state for K-12 education!

Integrity in Affiliation

Submission: Yes

“I have read the Idaho Constitution and the Idaho Republican Party Platform. I support the Idaho Republican 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.”

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