IDAHO FALLS — Idaho Rep. Gary Marshall is leaving office at the end of this term and will not run for re-election.
The Republican told EastIdahoNews.com Friday that he wants to spend more time with his 39 grandchildren and joked that he’s getting “too old” for the job.
“I’m going to be 74 this year, and I can’t stay long enough to rise in the ranks,” Marshall said. “There will be a large turnover in the House membership this year, so this is a good time for someone new to get in and get after it.”
The retired Brigham Young University-Idaho American Heritage and history professor represents District 30 House Seat A, comprising around 52,000 residents in the greater Idaho Falls area. He was elected in 2018, ran unopposed in 2020 and had originally thought he would serve six or eight years.
“After being here (in Boise) these two terms, I’ve decided I’ve done a few things I can be proud of,” Marshall said. “I feel a little guilty for not going on but I’ve got a lot of things I want to do. I haven’t really retired since I retired from the college, and I have some family histories to write.”
Marshall is particularly proud of the work he’s done with school curriculum in Idaho. When he was elected, he says state standards for math and English “were 99% word-for-word Common Core standards.” The Common Core State Standards Initiative was introduced nationwide in 2010 and details what K–12 students throughout the United States should know in English language arts and mathematics at the conclusion of each school grade.
Many parents, teachers and administrators strongly disagree with the standards, and Marshall worked to change them.
“An example that made people angry was the elementary math program. Teachers were trying to get kids to do math – basic addition and subtraction – in multiple ways, multiple strategies and multiple kinds of algorithms,” Marshall said. “It made parents angry because they didn’t know what was going on, and quite frankly, I’ve never had anybody prove to me there was a reason for it.”
He also noted English reading lists that were “really offensive to parents” and a push for young children to focus on literary analysis rather than simply enjoying reading.
“(State legislators) deserve praise for their tireless efforts to try to get it done right. Most of them are just really good people in their hearts.”
“Groups of teachers came together to do the revisions. I think in those areas we have moved away from the things that were most divisive,” Marshall said. “Now we need to get the water to the end of the row and get the new standards adopted because the State Board of Education didn’t get them on their agendas last fall, and they need to be approved properly.”
Marshall said he’s learned most of the legislative members he serves with are “good people who want to do the best they can.” He said political parties have created divisiveness and pulled people away from each other, but he cautions the public “not to be too judgmental about the process.”
“If you tear down your Legislature, ultimately the question is, in a republic, what do you have left?” he said. “I’ve been disappointed that people turn to a collective, mean-spirited criticism of the body as a whole, and there are many people here who don’t deserve that. They deserve praise for their tireless efforts to try to get it done right. Most of them are just really good people in their hearts, and they all have personal feelings about what they want to accomplish.”
Marshall said he is not disgruntled or leaving “because of the system.” He will remain involved with church and community service and will remember his time in office with fondness.
“I’ve tried to do the best I could. I’m not going to hang my head when I leave here. My head is going to be up, and I’m proud of what I’ve done,” he said.