Jeff Kirkman

Nampa School District
Zone 5
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Candidate Responses

What do you believe is the fundamental role of education?
The fundamental role of education is to teach academics to students K-12 that further an individual's intellect, knowledge, and critical thinking skills that will be invaluable as they mature and grow into adulthood. Additionally, it should support societal norms and values without discounting unfamiliar concepts and ideas. This is a reason why school boards have local control is to be more representative of local communities.
How would you promote rigorous academic instruction and excellence in your school district?
Rigorous academic instruction in the Nampa school district can be realized if we let teachers teach. There is a reason these unsung heroes got into the business of teaching, to teach our children necessary academic knowledge and skills and instill a love for life-long learning. They certainly didn’t get in the business for the money so why does the state, school district administrations, and school boards seem to make it so difficult to achieve this primary purpose? Instead of mandating numerous changes in curriculum, standards, testing and assessments, etc., which every time the next “big thing” comes along they have to spend time and money getting trained, practicing, and explaining it to confused parents and students, teachers should have the obstacles removed so they can just teach. We need to focus on what is working and make it better rather than shifting to a different direction much too often. A critical review of curriculum, texts, and other instructional materials and methods by the board, administrations, teachers, parents, and even students themselves will also lend itself to rigorous and excellent instruction.
How do you define Critical Race Theory? When implemented in school policies and curriculum, do you think Critical Race Theory differs from simply “teaching history?”
CRT is a theory – not proven, not fact – but a theory that attempts to relegate people of color to the bottom tier of society due to the assertion that there is systemic, institutional racism and attempts to identify ”whiteness” as evil and the white race as oppressors. Of course it differs from “teaching history” because it is not history. There are periods in our history when there was, and still is today, racism and it is ugly and hurtful, demeaning and demoralizing to everyone. The bad parts of our history should be taught with the good parts of our history but without the context of trying to teach our impressionable young kids that one race, white, are the oppressors over another race, black, who are the victims and the oppressed. How can we ever grow and be better when this is being taught in many different ways than just straight from a curriculum which is illegal in Idaho? We should simply be teaching our students that it doesn’t matter what race someone is, they deserve to be treated equally and with respect. No reason to indoctrinate them with suppositions that there are oppressors and oppressed. That simply perpetuates division.
How do you define Social Emotional Learning (SEL)? Would you encourage the implementation of any SEL model in your school district? If so, which model and why?
Simply put, SEL is teaching kids how to think and feel. There are measurables when teaching academics to students and testing and other assessments work well to determine if a student has learned the information or not. But how do you measure how someone, especially kids, thinks and feels and if they meet whatever standard might be in place? Teachers are not counselors and SEL curriculum belongs in that area, not the classroom. Schools should not be teaching any model of SEL. Leave it to the parents and those specifically and professionally trained, and I don’t mean a couple of days of in-service training, to address issues with social and emotional learning.
How would you respond to the Idaho State Board and Department of Education’s recent dissemination of resources such as the SEL Roadmap for Reopening Schools, which argues that schools should adopt anti-racist practices, focus on social justice, and conduct staff-wide implicit bias trainings? Should teachers be required to attend these kinds of trainings?
My response would be to vigorously oppose the dissemination of these types of resources. Why are schools hyper-focused on social justice issues? Teachers don’t have enough time to teach the fundamental academics let alone the time needed to attend training for anti-racist, implicit bias, and social justice issues. We are missing the mark if we start requiring teachers to attend these trainings. Leave it open as an option for continuing education that they seek on their own time if they so choose.
Should your school district be required to teach a sex education curriculum? If so, should this curriculum include instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity? Should parents and guardians be required to provide consent before their children participate in any sex education curriculum?
The Nampa school district should not be required to teach sex education curriculum except for the basic biology of the function of the human body which really isn’t sex education, it is simply science and biology about how bodies work. Leave the sex education out of the school and home with the parents. I understand that not all students have parents or an environment where they will learn such important facts of life so if a sex education class is provided at school, it must be by consent of the parent/guardian and not an opt-out situation but an opt-in requirement. My concern about sex education being taught in our schools is parents don’t know the agenda a teacher may have when teaching it. Is the instruction going to include pronoun preferences, LGBTQI issues, unisex bathrooms, deviant behavior, literature that may be deemed obscene by community standards, and abortion? These are deeply personal issues that should be dealt with on a personal level between the parent/guardian and the child, not the school. I will not stand by and let the schools usurp the rights of parents to teach their children about these sensitive issues but if they decide they want to opt-in their child to be taught sex education beyond the biology, then I support their right to make that decision.
How should school districts respond to the Idaho School Boards Association’s recommendation that transgender students be allowed to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify?
I will respond to the ISBA’s recommendation with absolute defiance. There must never be a male student in a female bathroom and vice-versa. Simply identifying as a sex does not change biology. Designate a bathroom for those who identify as either gender to use will mitigate this concern and remain equitable for students.
Do you support mask mandates in schools as a COVID-19 mitigation strategy? Do you support implementation of any other policies or practices designed to mitigate the effects of COVID-19?
I am opposed to mask mandates and vaccination mandates. Parents must retain the right to make those decisions for their children and not schools or other government entities. I support any individual’s decision to wear a mask and get vaccinated but not to force anyone else to do so. The COVID vaccinations are much different than MMR and other diseases for which kids are vaccinated. Those vaccines have been proven to work over many, many years so it is not comparing apples to apples. The simple basics of enhanced cleaning, disinfecting, social distancing when appropriate, hand washing, and staying home when sick are the most effective strategies at mitigating the spread of COVID and other viruses like the flu.