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Terry Gilbert Champions Education-‘It Changed my Life’
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Saturday, November 5, 2022
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

Terry Gilbert has spent 40 years as an educator, and he wants to devote more of his life to the education of youth in Idaho.

Gilbert, a longtime teacher, is running for State Superintendent of Public Instruction against Republican Debbie Critchfield. Both want to replace Sherri Ybarra, who was ousted from her post of eight years in the GOP primary.

Gilbert recently made a stop in Blaine County, visiting with Blaine County residents and reporters.

Gilbert grew up the son of an upholsterer. By high school he knew refurbishing convertible tops and sofas was not for him so he decided to be a minister. He became the first person in his family to go to college when he stepped foot on the Northwest Nazarene College campus in Nampa.

Gilbert a BA in English and a MA in Curriculum Development.

“It changed my life,” he said.

Gilbert taught English and American government in Marsing, Aberdeen and Nampa, establishing such a good rapport with his students that many came to his wedding when he married his wife of 53 years. He also served as president of the Idaho Education Association, visiting schools throughout the state.

“I watched elementary teachers in awe as I wondered how they could work with energetic students as they did,” he said.  

He is running, he said, because he cares deeply about public education.

“Idaho is sitting on $1.3 billion surplus. “We’ve scrimped on education funding for years—if you included Washington, D.C., we’d be 51st among states in funding.  We’re facing an unprecedented teacher shortage—we were down 900 teachers last I saw.”  

Gilbert supports the Quality Education Act, which would increase funding for K-12 education by $323 million per year.  He proposes putting half towards teacher salaries and using the rest to promote math and English literary.

“I talked to a woman who said she’d just signed a contract in Utah for $27,000 more than she could  make in the Magic Valley,” he said. “When we have a surplus and all these needs, I question whether we don’t have a lack of vision among those in control. Public education is the bulwark of our society. “

Gilbert, who has been endorsed by the Idaho Education Association, laments that Idaho’s 2021 high school graduation rate fell to 80.1 percent. The state needs a goal of 91 percent, he said.

“We also need to invest in early childhood education to prepare them for a better life. We need more funding for vocational education and we need to stimulate research and development at state colleges.”

Gilbert contends there’s no faster way to kill public schools than with a voucher system. And he decries saddling teachers with one standardized test after another.

“The American system has decided testing is the way to hold teachers accountable,” he said. “We need to treat our teachers and their support staff as the professionals they are.”

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