NO, this bill is NOT good for Idaho Children
Idaho Children are Primary (ICAP) believes in promoting public policy that will benefit (and not harm) our
most precious resource, our children. 94% of students attend public school in Idaho. Handing out Education
Savings Accounts (ESA) or private vouchers will drain money away from public schools, is not fiscally
conservative, and it will cause more property tax increases. ESA/vouchers will not promote student academic achievement. We cannot support such a measure.
ICAP fully supports the Governor’s 2023 budget supporting investments in Public Education. This is a great
start, however public education in Idaho has been chronically underfunded for years, and is barely catching up to pre-2008 levels. Our placement at the bottom of all states in per pupil spending has led to costly property tax increases through supplemental levies. Idaho lacks the resources to address the individual needs of our students. Diverting public money to private education will significantly take away much needed dollars from this 94% of Idaho students. ESA/vouchers in other states have led to higher education costs overall, because the state has to support two systems - public and private.
The term “school or parent choice” is being touted as a fix-all for education shortfalls in our state. However, the national conservative group, the Heritage Foundation, puts Idaho as the third state nationally for school choice. No states around us come close to the parent choice that exists in Idaho.
Idaho public schools offer many options:
● Traditional schools
● Charter schools
● Magnet schools
● On-line virtual schools
● Career technical schools
● Programs for gifted and talented students
● Programs for students with special needs
● Community schools that support lower income families
● Dual credit classes
● Advanced Placement classes
We need to fully fund our public schools that support all students in these programs, and make them more accessible to rural communities with limited resources.
Public schools are accountable to their locally elected school boards for teacher qualifications and
certifications, curriculum and resource materials, and student achievement. They cannot discriminate and they must educate all children. That is not true of private educational entities who take taxpayer funds in the form of ESA/vouchers. They are accountable to no one for teacher quality, curriculum, or student achievement. They can be selective/discriminating in whom they accept, and they have no obligation to provide education for all students who show up at their doors.
The fiscal note on this legislation states this program will cost approximately $20M, assuming a 1% intake of
students currently in public schools (3200). The fiscal note should also include a percentage intake of current home schoolers (assume 20% = 2345) and private school students (assume 30% + 3087) for a total cost of over $50M.
Over 80% of Idahoans voted in support of the Legislature’s education funding bill that passed last fall.
Do what’s best for Idaho’s children by fully supporting and funding public schools. Vote to OPPOSE S1038.