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School superintendents ignore record of failure

School superintendents ignore record of failure

Wayne Hoffman
August 16, 2021

Last month, four retired Idaho school superintendents decided to attack the Idaho Freedom Foundation for our work exposing the radicalization and indoctrination of our public school students. It’s important to remind parents and taxpayers that our concern about public education goes back well before we ever uttered a word about a social justice agenda being used to indoctrinate Idaho schoolchildren. 

Don Coberly, Geoffry Thomas, Teresa Fabricius, and Wil Overgaard all lead or have led school districts that are failing to deliver students a meaningful education, according to the measures they use to hold students accountable. For today, let’s just look at college entrance exams from high school upperclassmen.

At Coberly’s Boise School District, 41.6% of students met college and career-ready benchmarks for math and English. In any setting, we’d call that a failure. But Boise is the belle of the ball when it comes to test results. Thomas’ Madison School District had 38.6% of students meet the benchmarks. At Fruitland schools, previously led by Teresa Fabricius, fewer than a quarter of students hit the target. And Overgaard-run Weiser School District had about 1 in 10 students meet the targets for math and language. At least the odds of winning at those schools are better than they are in Vegas.

This isn’t a new problem that’s shaped by lack of attendance due to a “pandemic.” This is an ongoing, decades-long problem that has plagued public schools throughout Idaho and the country. 

And while these former school superintendents claim that they’re teaching students to appreciate America, IFF’s research team has looked into textbooks and other materials used to educate students. We’ve found example after example of materials that downplay American ideals, capitalism, wealth creation, property rights, and meritocracy. 

The superintendents ask: What evidence is there to support the claim that our kids are being exposed to unchecked radicalization in government indoctrination camps? How about the fact that school textbooks approved for use in Idaho claim that America has a “living constitution” and that socialism is merely an economic system that makes up for the shortcomings of capitalism? Or textbooks that say communism isn’t evil, it just hasn’t been implemented well yet? Or extolling the New Deal and lifting Franklin Roosevelt to God-like status? 

But forget textbooks. How about the fact that Idaho’s education system demands teachers adhere to a social justice framework? Or that educators are required by state education rules to obsess over students’ race?

Finally, the superintendents say they believe in local control of elected schools boards over special interest groups that seek to divide communities. If that’s the case, where were they last legislative session when lawmakers were considering a bill to return power to school boards and away from leftist labor unions? Nowhere to be found. 

Imagine a hospital where 1 in 10 surgeries fail or a restaurant where fewer than half of the patrons receive a hot, tasty meal. Would either stay in business? Wouldn’t someone get fired? In the government school system, failure results in more money, which results in more failure, which results in demands for more money. When parents show up demanding accountability, the schools push back. When parents demand other options, in this case, education choice, the school special interests work to protect the status quo, trapping students in failing schools. This is followed by superintendents writing op-eds in the newspaper pretending that their schools are doing well.

Our kids deserve better. It’s time to ignore the rhetoric of the education establishment. It’s time to free students from the failure that is the government school system.

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