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Education Freedom for Idaho Schools

Federal dollars come with powerful strings.

Education Freedom for Idaho Schools

Education Freedom for Idaho Schools

By Rep. Ronald Nate

Schools, districts, and Idaho’s education department are not free.  They are not “free” in the dollars sense, and certainly not “free” in the liberty sense either.  Idaho school decisions are limited by many federal and state regulations. Local school boards are elected by district voters, but they have very little ability to make meaningful reforms in their districts.

This legislative session, I have introduced two bills to restore lost freedoms in Idaho schools:  one repeals Common Core as a state requirement for districts, and the second rejects federal education funds and replaces them with state funds.

Repeal Common Core – H412

Many Idaho parents are frustrated by Common Core standards and content.  They are upset about inefficient and harmful teaching methods used and the confusion kids experience from it.

My own daughter had to learn no less than FIVE ways to add two two-digit numbers together.  She liked “stacking” best. Unfortunately, she had to show all the methods on her tests.

There you have it, she is wasting 80% of her time learning four extra methods of adding, she will likely not use again.  She knows and likes one method, but spends extra time doing less-efficient methods (for her anyway).

Bill H412, allows districts to choose alternative standards when Idaho makes Common Core the state standards.  It is not a mandate, just a freedom hatch for districts who don’t like Common Core or its methods.  Education freedom demands the ability of districts to choose standards, content, and methods.

Eliminate Federal Funding (and Control) – H413

Most people are surprised when I propose to reject federal funding for Idaho education.  But, when I tell them the federal government only accounts for about 8-9% of our education spending, but controls most of our education policy, they start to see my point. When we are dependent on federal dollars, the feds get to make our rules.

Three years ago, one Idaho district chose to not administer the Common Core standardized test (the SBAC test). No problem, right? Wrong. Not only did the state government step in, but the federal Department of Education (headed then by Arne Duncan), notified the state and the district, about losing federal funding for special needs programs if the district did not comply with Common Core testing requirements.  Federal dollars come with powerful strings.

The Education Freedom Act I’m proposing gradually reduces our reliance on federal funding (replacing it with state funding), until Idaho is free from federal dependence and federal rules.  The Act does NOT reduce funding for Idaho schools; it only changes the source of the funding.

True freedom in education (or any area) is only possible when we don’t depend on others for our wants and needs.  We can do it in Idaho education, the question is, will we do it?

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