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Ybarra lies about Idaho’s government schools getting better

Ybarra lies about Idaho’s government schools getting better

Wayne Hoffman
November 2, 2021
Wayne Hoffman
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November 2, 2021

Idaho parents deserve to know the truth about the quality of the state's government-run education system, not Sherri Ybarra’s rose-colored version of it. 

On Wednesday, Ybarra’s Department of Education put out a misleading news release touting Idaho’s “academic success” as measured by the national publication “Education Week.” 

Ybarra went as far as to claim that scores are “on the rise” and bragged that the state had gone from getting a D+ in a previous analysis to a C. She said the news was encouraging because in 2016, the state ranked 31st nationally and now ranks 17th among the 50 states and Washington, D.C. 

“That’s great,” Ybarra is quoted as saying. She used the word “great” twice in her press release and also called the results “gratifying.” And of course, some folks in the legacy news media reported, almost verbatim, the story Ybarra had to tell, inaccuracies, superlatives, and all. 

The news release points out that the results are based on Idaho’s 4th and 8th grade 2019 math and reading assessments and Nation’s Report Card performance since 2003, so it’s easy to check the truthfulness of her statements. 

Idaho Freedom Foundation education policy director Anna Miller did that, and noted that what Ybarra claims is “academic success” is actually the opposite. For example, 8th grade reading scores have dropped by four points. Eighth grade math scores are flat, and still below where they were years ago. The same is also true of 4th grade math and reading scores. Student test scores have continuously come in as below proficient on standardized tests, and they still are.  

Miller also noted that Idaho ranks incredibly low in three out of the five categories in Education Week’s report. That’s not something that one would expect the leader of the state’s public education system to trumpet as a success story. Because it’s not. Ybarra also used her phony figures to push for more government-run education, claiming we’d rank even higher among states if only we had a statewide pre-kindergarten program. Once again, that’s obviously false.

This is not the first time Ybarra has decided to sugarcoat the failings of the education system that she oversees, as we’ve noted before. Ybarra has been trying to construct and defend a narrative that Idaho’s government-run schools are getting better and better. In reality, far too many kids are graduating from schools unable to read, write, and do math with great proficiency. It’s common for students to go to college and have to take remedial classes. 

I wish that weren’t the case because Lord knows that Idaho has some awesome public school teachers who are working really hard in their individual classes to get kids the optimum education they can deliver. Just as parents and students deserve better, so do Idaho’s public school teachers. But they’re being weighed down by government-endorsed education fads like Common Core, and an irrational force on social emotional learning and critical race theory. 

Ybarra continues to defend Common Core, even though its failings over the course of a decade are more than obvious. She’s become the state’s leading booster of social emotional learning, and she denies the existence of critical race theory, even though there’s plenty of evidence that it’s endemic in Idaho’s schools. 

No one should expect that Ybarra will suddenly decide to be honest about underperformance in the public school system. No one should expect anyone to be fired for it. That’s why it’s important as it has ever been for students to be freed from a failing education system, led by a superintendent of public instruction who is willing to go as far as to lie about it. 

View Comments
  • Bee says:

    Folks....CARE about your kids:
    Get them out of these indoctrination centers.
    Homeschool! Give up daily lattes, designer clothes, newer vehicles, bigger house, etc. Hilsdale makes it easy.

  • KJ says:

    Here is Putin talking about the subversion going on here in the USA. This so called administrator is part of this subversion.
    Start at 104:25

  • Al says:

    This article leads me to an interesting question: Which is more harmful to our society - the "sugarcoating" that Wayne accuses Ybarra of, or the "gaslighting" that Wayne does by writing this article? I love cookies and all things sweet, and really try to avoid arsonists as much as possible, so I'd go with Ybarra on this one.

    People, Wayne is correct in ONE regard in this article. It is indeed easy to read the National Report Card. It appears Wayne didn't personally do so because he refers to Anna Miller's review of it for him. Well, I have as well. And, contrary to Wayne's assertion that Ybarra "lied" and that she used "phony figures", that just doesn't hold water. Ybarra accurately quoted the numbers she used. What Wayne SHOULD BE accusing her of is NOT TELLING THE WHOLE STORY - which is an entirely different assertion than calling her a liar and accusing her of using "phony numbers". So, who's the liar?.....

    The numbers do reflect Idaho increasing in rank in specific categories that she mentions. That's true - it's verifiable by the National Report Card that Wayne himself refers us to. She was truthful. Wayne counters by indicating areas where Idaho's RAW SCORE either dipped or was flat. That's also true. But that doesn't contradict the numbers that Ybarra referenced. Wayne and Ybarra are both accurate but that doesn't mean either either are lying about the numbers.

    Consider an hypothetical example - if, during the pandemic Idaho's unemployment rate rose, say, 5%, but the national average rose 9%, Gov Little could say with some level of pride that we did RELATIVELY well when compared to the national average. And let's say Wayne wrote an article calling Little a liar because Idaho's unemployment rate worsened. Was Little lying? No! He may be accused of filtering out some bad news amidst the news of us doing better than other states, but it's NOT A LIE. And that's precisely what Wayne is doing here. Gaslighting. And hoping that you don't read the National Report Card yourself, apparently, because this is awfully easy to see through.

  • Chris says:

    Al rightly points out that the premise of the article is False. However, most can agree that Idaho's schools do need improvement. They clearly need more funding to help do this, since Idaho is DEAD LAST in education funding.

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