Legislators tackle education bills; Topics include Full Day Kindergarten, Critical Race Theory | News

BOISE — The Idaho legislature recently grappled with education bills regarding all-day kindergarten, higher education budgets and some concerns about indoctrination.

On Wednesday, March 16, the Idaho House of Representatives debated the all-day kindergarten bill, Senate Bill 1373, which would allocate an additional $46 million to early reading programs.

Rep. Ryan Kerby (R) introduced S 1373, he said it would ease the need to use additional local property tax levies for kindergarten. About 90% of schools offer some form of full-time kindergarten and depend on these levies to provide these services.

Kerby also said the bill would change Idaho’s planned distribution of $72 million for literacy programs. The money would be split, with half going to schools based on enrollment and the other half to schools providing grade level scores to students on Idaho’s Reading Indicator.

After Rep. Heather Scott objected, Clerk Carrie Maulin read the bill aloud and a 20-minute debate ensued. House Majority Leader Mike Moyle requested that S 1373 be delayed another day, without objection.

The House also passed HB 776 with a 46-22 vote, which provides the higher education budget for fiscal year 2023. Idaho’s four-year colleges and universities would receive a $25 million increase s they were adopted.

In opposition to the bill, Rep. Ronald Nate (R) pointed to last year’s decision to cut the $2.5 million increase to encourage schools to monitor indoctrination, and even mentioned the critical race theory.

“What I’m talking about is that universities become centers of activation; they divert attention from education… [Students] are diverted from their education and try to become activists.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Paul Amador (R) proposed that there be no evidence of indoctrination to be found and provided the budget allows schools to freeze undergraduate tuition in the state for a third consecutive year.

Representative Megan Blanksma (R) offered her support, addressing four university leaders who provided letters pledging to act in accordance with the policy and even asking legislatures to visit their classrooms.

The bill will be returned to the Senate for further debate and vote.

As some lawmakers question the incentives of some higher education institutions, a resolution encouraging Idaho schools to teach the full and honest truth about American American history passed the House on Tuesday . Concurrent Resolution 118 is sponsored by Sen. Carl Crabtree (R) and Rep. Judy Boyle (R) and was approved by the Senate a month ago.

“This is just an attempt to set aside what divides us…it’s an effort to unite us in teaching our children about history, all of America’s history – the good, the bad and the ugly,” Rep. Boyle said, urging House members for their go-ahead.

The resolution encourages the removal of “divisive content” from school itineraries and other learning materials and calls for the 1619 Project, which focuses on the global impact of slavery. The resolution received support in efforts to reduce possible indoctrination in higher education.

Meanwhile, the opposition has questioned what influence the resolution might have. Rep. Chris Mathias (D) said the resolution could protect a “certain type of history education”.

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