As the interminable 2021 legislative session passed the 100 day mark this week, the legislature continued its antics around education budgets and “straw man” arguments around the “indoctrination” of students. Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin is forming a task force to “investigate” the issue. And the House approved a massive tax cut bill that predominantly help the most affluent Idahoans.
House Cites Unfounded Concerns in Passing HB 377
The Idaho House fast-tracked HB 377, passing it through the House Education Committee Thursday morning and on the House floor Thursday afternoon, in both instances completely along party lines. This bill curtails the academic freedom of educators, questions their professional integrity, and raises a strong specter of censorship and First Amendment violations.
It is all based on a “monster under the bed” fear brought about by a false and misleading narrative. Radical right politicians are leveling charges that Idaho teachers are “indoctrinating” students in leftist agendas, social justice theory, critical race theory, and other unsubstantiated practices. Incoming State Board of Education President Kurt Liebich even noted in a press conference how concerned he is with the phrase “indoctrination” being bandied about recklessly because of how it undermines the public education system.
What this bill does accomplish is weaponizing public education budgets and intimidating educators who will be constantly looking over their shoulders,” says IEA President Layne McInelly. “Idaho students deserve a well-rounded education that allows them to explore a variety of subjects, even potentially sensitive ones, through the prism of all people and multiple perspectives.”
Kevin Richert of Idaho Education News has analysis of the quiet acquiescence by Governor Little and the State Board while the legislature ran roughshod over the reputation if Idaho public schools.
Task Force Set Up to “Examine Indoctrination in Idaho Education”
The next step in this questionable endeavor is a task force convened by Lieutenant Governor Janice McGeachin, which, according to the press release, will “Examine Indoctrination in Idaho Education Based on Critical Race Theory, Socialism, Communism, and Marxism”. This specious quest seems to be set up to find whatever it is they want to find, rather than actual facts, but the Lieutenant Governor is required by law to solicit public input, so educators should submit their perspectives through this form. Let the task force know what is really happening in Idaho classrooms, give them a look at your approach to teaching, and share the impact censorship and lack of open discussion would have on students.
House Approves Massive Tax Cut
While they meddle with educators’ salaries and the funding mechanism for Idaho public schools, the House had not issue with approving a massive tax cut that will primarily benefit the wealthy. “With a strong economy and a $600 million surplus, this would have been an ideal time for the legislature to make a significant investment in our public schools, with the context that Idaho is last in the nation in per student funding,” says IEA President Layne McInelly.
The Idaho Capital Sun has a story on the tax cut. Also included here is a piece on JFAC’s decision to prematurely phase out the use of federal relief funds for childcare.
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