COEUR d'ALENE — When Sherri Ybarra described the future of education in Idaho on Thursday night, she went back to our roots.
The state superintendent of public instruction told about 100 people attending the Kootenai County Republican Women Federated's Women in Red Auction and Dinner that she's tried to uphold many of the educational values President Ronald Reagan held since she took office in 2015.
"What's right in Idaho can be traced back," Ybarra said at the Hagadone Event Center after hearing several local, state and national women of distinction over the years be honored during the event.
Ybarra said the Idaho Content Standards, approved by the Legislature after stakeholder input, will continue to be tweaked.
She said the science standards will be considered by the Legislature this winter for final approval.
"I feel confident that they will pass because feedback was taken from the people," she said.
Republican Women member Bonnie Russell-Hunt said she's encouraged with Idaho's progress with testing.
"Idaho is making substantial gains in statewide testing and has had an increase in graduation rates," she said.
With testing, Ybarra said she's tried to shift so much focus on scores to the child behind them.
"Testing is important; it helps us monitor student progress," she said. "We need to make sure our resources in the right places."
Ybarra said she's optimistic that the first Parent Advisory Council, which meets quarterly to ensure families have a voice in education, will continue to be a great tool to iron out issues and accept input.
"Strong families are the key to education," she said. "The council members are not hand-picked by me or my staff. They are nominated by communities."
Bullying in schools has been and continues to be a hurdle, especially with technology and social media, Ybarra said. She said she was also a victim of bullying.
Ybarra said an anti-bullying initiative with public service announcements exposes the problem.
"Bullies thrive on their victims staying silent," she said. "Let's keep our kids safe."
She said the initiative not only focuses on reprimanding the bully, but is intended to build confidence and awareness for those who are bullied and encourages adults to get involved.
"Everyone needs to come together (to take aim at bullying)," she said.
A teacher at New Vision Alternative High School in Post Falls asked Ybarra if there could be more opportunities to teach family and consumer science in schools.
Ybarra said the topic is worthy of discussion at local FACE (Family and Community Engaging) conferences.
Another example of local control, a theme throughout Ybarra's talk, was how the state put internet contracts back into the hands of the local districts. The savings were converted back into the General Fund.