Candidate for State Superintendent
What it is like to run a campaign for a state office.
Introduced by: Ben Nelson
Debbie will be discussing what it is like to run a campaign for a state office. Debbie is running for the State Superintendent position.
Originally posted on IdahoEdNews.org on May 11, 2021: https://www.idahoednews.org/news/critchfield-announces-run-for-state-superintendent/
Critchfield was appointed to the State Board of Education in 2014, and served as president from April 2019 until last month, leading the state board’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She served for 10 years as a trustee on the Cassia County school board, and later joined the district’s staff.
Critchfield says she’s considered a run for state superintendent for years. The position would give her more direct day-to-day management and spending control over K-12 education than she had as a member of the state board. Conversations she’s had this past year cemented her decision.
“You talk to parents and they question the effectiveness of their child’s education. You talk to teachers and they’re discouraged about their profession. You talk to administrators around the state and they’re wondering about the state’s direction for education. I talk to industry leaders and they are desperate for students to be prepared. And generally we see that taxpayers are debating their investments in education,” Critchfield said.
“There was a time when all of those groups saw the value,” Critchfield said. “I fundamentally believe it’s time to restore the value of an Idaho education.”
Idaho Superintendents of Public Instruction: Sherri Ybarra (2014-present), Tom Luna (2006-2014), Marilyn Howard (1998-2006).
As Superintendent, Critchfield says she’d work to align the priorities of state agencies and local districts, so educators across the state are working toward the same goals. She would put a stronger emphasis on supporting students’ foundational literacy and math skills, especially as schools work to recoup learning lost during the pandemic. Critchfield also plans to prioritize youth behavioral health, and build on parental involvement demanded by the pandemic to better engage with families.
“Parents had to take a stronger role in the education of their students, and I don’t want to lose that momentum,” Critchfield said. “We’ve got this incredible opportunity to take advantage of what parents have learned, and how their involvement can help generate even more success.”
Critchfield touts her experience at all levels of the school system — as a parent, a district employee, former trustee and state board leader — as a key reason she’d be good for the job.
“To have all those hats…it’s easier for me to draw conclusions and say ‘I’ve talked to such a wide variety of people from all levels of education, this is what I’m hearing, this is where we need to go,” Critchfield said.
“It’s not going to take me four years to figure out the system. I’ll be ready to lead, day one.”
Critchfield will step down from the State Board in the coming months to pursue her candidacy for schools chief.
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