Dr. Bret Shillingstad, MD
July 11, 2023
West Bonner School District
My family and I moved here a few years ago anxious to leave the liberal domination of Madison, Wisconsin and be back out west where I was raised. We have loved our time in the mountains and meeting our neighbors who have become good friends. The COVID plandemic opened the public’s eyes about the control of medicine, government and education even at the local level. We were impressed with the school board addressing these issues on the local level.
Let’s face facts, the local school district by most standards would be considered a “basket case” when compared to other districts in the state. Even though the district spends $10,407 per pupil and Idaho average is $9,363 the extra dollars are not producing results. Test scores are below average and the “go-on” rate in the district is 32% which is well below average. The “go-‘on” rate measures graduating seniors going to some type of further education. This is all on top of teachers dismissed for moral failure and events that show issues for students under stress and depression.
The education establishment in Idaho is similar to other states, they run the schools and state funding and spending. All you have to do is read the labor agreement between the district and the teacher’s union, look at this one example: “Article VI: Association Business: The Association President shall be released fifteen (15) days per year for Association business. Such release days shall be in addition to those days authorized by Idaho Code. The West Bonner County Education Association will pay for the cost of the substitutes as needed.” Remember, “Association” is the teacher’s union and not being in the classroom teaching is less important than union business and there are more examples in the contract.
What has caused the latest controversy? The fact that the Board of Trustees would dare appoint an outsider to be the new superintendent and not promote a teacher and union member from the faculty. The Board dared to appoint Brandon Hurst as the new superintendent from outside the district and the local union and leftists in the state have lost their minds. The Hagadone newspapers (Bonner Bee and Coeur d’Alene Press among others) have joined in on the attacks. The Press invited a known leftist, Jim Jones to tell us that this is the end of the world for education in Idaho. This is the same Jim Jones from Boise who viciously attacked Dr. Ryan Cole for dissenting during COVID. In September of 2021 he wanted Dr. Cole’s medical license to be stripped. Why? Dr. Cole thought Ivermectin among other drugs could be effective. Jones said it was for animals and was “horse paste”. He somehow failed to mention Ivermectin was a Nobel Prize Winning Drug in 2015 and touted as a miracle drug for millions in tropical areas. This year of course studies have shown the efficacy of Ivermectin in COVID patients was 72% effective.
What is the point of this aside on medicine? It is this, don’t take advice from Jim or the media on medicine or education when they has no background on either. The board of trustees of West Bonner S.D. know the community and and the schools. But why the opposition to Brandon Durst? Who is he? Well he was a two term representative in the Idaho House and one term in the Idaho Senate and that certainly gave him experience in state funding and government. Oh, by the way, he served as a Democrat. In addition to his bachelor’s degree he has a Masters in Public Administration and amid other honors he earned an Education Specialist (EDS) degree in Executive Educational Leadership, all from Boise State. He then decided to run for Supt. of Public Instruction in Idaho in 2022 as a Republican in a field of three in the primary. He narrowly lost the race but dominated the field in North Idaho. In Bonner Country he beat the other two candidates who ran against him. Brandon received 2550 votes or nearly 60% and swamped the other two candidates . He was the clear favorite in our area, we liked him then why not now?
Here is the kicker. He then went to work for the Idaho Freedom Foundation and those three words drives the leftists bonkers. He researched and wrote papers mainly on education reform. He is married and he an his wife Cheri have four sons and a daughter and is respected among legislators and leaders in the state of Idaho.
I think our school board made a good choice but the test will be time. Let’s evaluate him a year or two from now. You can decide how you will vote on the recall but do your homework. We will vote NO! Request your ballot early so you don’t forget. Call the Bonner County Clerk at 208-265-1432 for details on voting. These local elections are critical, issues regarding schools, libraries and local government is where we need the patriots to turn out. Pray for strength and wisdom for our board. It is a thankless job and when you take on the education establishment it is not pretty.