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Elections 2014: Cottonwood teacher seeks state superintendent post

Duties of the Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction?

State Superintendent of Public Instruction is a constitutional officer of the State of Idaho. He serves as an ex-officio member of the State Board of Education and serves on the Board of Land Commissioners. He serves as chief executive officer of the State Department of Education and exercises general supervision of the department. The State Superintendent provides technical and professional assistance and advice to all school districts in reference to all aspects of education including finances, buildings, equipment, administration, organization of school districts, curriculum and instruction, transportation of pupils and interpretation of school laws and state regulations.

— Idaho Blue Book (page 59)

GRANGEVILLE — Cottonwood School District teacher John Eynon announced his candidacy last week for Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Eynon spoke as, “a concerned grandfather,” he said, for the future of state education, to members of the Idaho County Republican Central Committee last Tuesday, Jan. 21. Issues with Common Core, such as the loss of local schools oversight and declining standards, were a key campaign topic for Eynon, along with needs for improved student safety and rights to privacy.

Primary election is May 20, and candidates can officially begin filing petitions of candidacy on March 3. Eynon will be running in the Republican primary for the seat currently held by two-term incumbent Tom Luna. Current superintendent salary is $99,450.

Eynon has been a music teacher – first in Grangeville, then in Cottonwood — for 15 years, and 10 years in the education textbook publishing industry, and is a retired U.S. Navy commander. He and his wife of 41 years, Donna, have two grown sons.

“First and most importantly, the views of parents are being disregarded,” Eynon said, regarding the defeat of “Students Come First” and propositions 1,2, and 3. Idaho Core Standards and SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium) testing, he continued, are just more of the same agenda.

According to his campaign information, Eynon states Common Core will fail Idaho students, if implemented, due to it being based on faulty assumptions; a one-size fits-all approach that “stifles diverse learning styles, and a lowest common denominator-oriented result.” Schools are in a perpetual state of change – Outcome-based Education, Goals 2000, School-to-Work, No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, Common Core – “and yet parents are not seeing improvement.”

At the meeting, Eynon raised the example of the Common Core pilot program in Kentucky that has failed to close the education gap between minority and white students: “They took the lead, and I don’t think we want to follow their lead.”

Eynon said the work of the Idaho State Standards needs to be re-engaged, building upon these to achieve a “world-class education for Idaho’s children.” He is an advocate that better education alternatives come from state control and direction of local school boards and parents.

He expressed concern that the safety and security of school facilities, “has taken a back seat to Wi-Fi contracts.” State recommendations to districts for facility security were not accompanied by ways to fund these changes, yet there was money available to provide a laptop for every student. Money needs to be put into nominal expenses to improve safety, such as reinforced doors and electronic locks that report unauthorized access.

Eynon is concerned with student privacy rights and the state’s longitudinal data system that provides child information to federal agencies, “without parental control or consent,” he said, that has made FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) laws “almost null and void.” He said aggregate reports provided to the federal government would be sufficient and allow for the state to continue receiving Title 1 funding, “and under my leadership we’ll get back to that,” he said.

Among his other issues includes support for the Second Amendment and pro-life; and that one of the important roles of the superintendent is representation on the State Land Board.

“I would fully oppose any state-owned business competing with the private sector,” he said.

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