The news that HB 590, the private school voucher bill, has been pulled from the legislative agenda represents a significant victory for Idaho’s public schools and public education system. It also validates the diligent efforts of a broad coalition of education stakeholder organizations, as well as groups and individuals committed to protecting Idaho’s public schools. Proponents tried to frame this legislation as a scholarship bill, but public education supporters saw through the semantics, especially when it became clear that tax credits for private schools was the ultimate goal.
While the Idaho Education Association, Idaho School Boards Association and Idaho Association of School Administrators rightfully took the lead in opposing this dangerous legislation, defeating HB 590 would not have been possible without the determination of individual members of our organizations and a host of others who were willing to fight for the opportunities and access our public schools provide. We have strong public schools in Idaho, and dedicated professional educators who have made it their life’s work to educate and serve every child who walks through the doors of their neighborhood school.
A heartfelt thank you to everyone who contacted legislators, talked to their local school district officials, shared concerns about HB 590 on social media and in person, or assisted in any way to educate the public about this alarming bill. Your efforts will have a positive and lasting affect on Idaho students, schools and communities.
Thank you also to the legislators who voted or spoke out against this bill, and to the Senate Education Committee for pulling it from the agenda. We share a desire for policies that enable student growth and lead to student success, but private school vouchers that undermine the resources and efforts of public schools are counterproductive.
It is our sincere hope that this defeat of vouchers will bring an end to this assault on our public schools. Instead of trying to circumvent Idaho’s public schools, let’s invest in them so they have the proper resources needed to provide the maximum educational experience for every child.
Thanks again to everyone who contributed to protecting Idaho’s public schools by helping to defeat HB 590.
Written by Sue Wigdorski (executive director, Idaho Education Association), Karen Echeverria (executive director, Idaho School Boards Association) and Rob Winslow (executive director, Idaho Association of School Administrators).