A hearing on a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow for taxpayer dollars to be siphoned off and distributed to private and parochial schools has been called off. It is still very possible that this ill-conceived legislation may get a hearing at a later date, so we are asking you to help protect public education and the well-being of Idaho students by urging legislators to defeat this bill. Please contact members of the House State Affairs Committee and urge them to vote NO on House Joint Resolution 1.
The Idaho Education Association, the Idaho School Boards Association and the Idaho School Administrators Association are among the education stakeholder groups who strongly oppose this bill and have lobbied against it. Passage of this bill would amend our state’s constitution, allowing our tax dollars to be siphoned off and spent on unaccountable private and religious schools, jeopardizing education opportunities for students, especially those in rural portions of the state already struggling with underfunded local schools.
There are a myriad of obvious issues with HJR 1:
- Idaho’s current investment in our children’s public schools ranks as the 47th lowest in the country. If our state constitution is changed, that investment will become even smaller as our taxes will be siphoned off for unaccountable private and religious schools.
- A few years ago when Indiana passed a similar law, hundreds of millions of dollars were funneled into private and religious schools. Since then, nearly 60% of these schools receive a “D” or “F” grade.
- Private and parochial schools have less oversight and are far less accountable to state public education standards and laws. There are no rules, no oversight and no way to know whether our money is being spent as intended.
- Unregulated private schools may hire teachers who are unqualified and uncertified, which would be a huge disservice to students and parents.
- Rather than serving as an opportunity for disadvantaged students, voucher programs are all too often entitlements for families that already have the means to attend private school.
- The last thing we should be doing is changing our constitution to allow public funds to be used to support religious institutions. Once we make this change, it will almost impossible to change it back if things go wrong.
Please support Idaho students, teachers and public schools by telling legislators that HJR1 is, quite simply, a bad idea.