Sunday, November 2, 2014

VOTE: We Have a Choice in Lesson Plans--Jana Jones vs. Sherri Ybarra

I get a little sentimental around election day as I recall my first time voting. It was 1972; I was 14. Richard Nixon won in a landslide over over George McGovern

Nixon won 508 electoral votes to McGovern's 17. I marked the ballot for McGovern. 

I didn't want to vote for McGovern, but since the ballot belonged to my father, my role as his proxy required me to mark the ballot based on his choice. We walked to the polling place after school. On our way to Mark Twain Elementary in Webb City, Missouri, my father and I discussed the merits of both candidates. 

Mark Twain Elementary, the polling place where my father voted in 1972.
"I'm choosing the lesser of two evils," my father explained. I don't remember any of the issues we talked about, but I do hear my father's words echo in my memory as I contemplate my choices. 

My husband voted early this year as he will be out of town on business. "I didn't like three of the uncontested candidates," he explained last week, "so I put my name in as a write-in candidate in three slots." 

I suspect Ken won't get additional support for his write-in candidacy, but that three seats for state offices are uncontested this election cycle suggests we need a revival of civic involvement. 

This election day the two races that interest me most are the governor's race and the Superintendent of Public Instruction contest. 

The latter race will determine the lesson plan, the direction, Idaho takes in education policy. Our current education "leader" has embraced such wrong-headed accountability plans as Value-Added Measurements to assess teachers. 

The two candidates represent polar opposite spectrums. Jana Jones is a respected, ethical educator and candidate who understands the needs of Idaho's rural districts and the importance of building relationships with beleaguered teachers. 

*The video is the debate between Jana and Sherri in Idaho Falls.

In contrast, Sherri Ybarra is among the most unethical candidates I've seen. In addition to not having voted in an election since she moved to Idaho in 1996, she plagiarized Jana Jones's website, lied about her marriages, and, worse of all, is in our current superintendent's back pocket. She will be a puppet to Tom Luna, and Idaho students and teachers will suffer if she is elected. 

As I have told many, I don't know how I, an English teacher, am supposed to instill a sense of ethical behavior among students when the state education leader is a plagiarist. The hypocrisy is mind-boggling. 

Casting my father's vote as a 14-year old I began to understand how jaded the common person can become in an imperfect system. Sometimes I feel as though I'm left with "the lesser of two evils" when casing my ballot. Not this year. For me, the choice is clear. 

I'm choosing right over wrong, ethical over unethical, good over evil when I cast my ballot. I'm choosing Jana Jones's lesson plan for Idaho schools.