Wayne Hoffman’s big disclaimer on public schools

Five paragraphs into a guest opinion on the proposed school funding formula rewrite, Wayne Hoffman serves up a whale of a disclaimer.

The head of the Idaho Freedom Foundation says he’d just as soon see Idaho stop funding schools entirely.

“I don’t think government should be in the education business,” Hoffman wrote Friday. “It is the most virulent form of socialism (and indoctrination thereto) in America today. The predictable result has been higher costs, lower performance, and a system that twists itself in knots to prove it’s educating kids when really it’s not.”

The president of the conservative think tank and lobbying group doesn’t quit there.

Hoffman criticizes one of the most oft-quoted and oft-cited sections of the state Constitution, pertaining to public education.

“(Teachers), as much as students, are victims of the 19thcentury constitutional mandate that Idaho have an education system that is ‘general, uniform, and thorough,’” Hoffman wrote. “There’s nothing in the Constitution requiring students receive an education that is ‘competitive’ or ‘accountable’ or ‘excellent.’ And that’s too bad.”

Here’s what that passage of the Constitution says, in full: “The stability of a republican form of government depending mainly upon the intelligence of the people, it shall be the duty of the legislature of Idaho, to establish and maintain a general, uniform and thorough system of public, free common schools.”

The passage is Idaho’s statement of purpose on public education — a concept, of course, that is not unique to Idaho or the United States. And in turn, this constitutional statement drives nearly half of Idaho’s general fund budget.

So, yes, it’s indeed significant for one of the state’s more prominent conservatives to suggest ditching the whole concept of public education.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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