Idaho needs better support of early childhood education

When we moved to Idaho years ago, we hoped the rapidly growing state would have a variety of options for quality early childhood education. Unfortunately, we were sadly mistaken.

We were on waitlists at several Boise preschools for quite a while before finally receiving spots for our twins in an accredited and safe program. After the struggle of finding those spots for preschool, we were faced with our next hurdle—Kindergarten. What would seem to be a given was not, because Idaho school districts are not required to offer Kindergarten programs to their residents. With our twins turning six in 2021 and starting kindergarten in the fall, we applied to every school possible in the district, as well as nearby charter schools. I was told by principal after principal that they would add me to their waitlists due to high demand.

While my children did eventually luck into two spots in the lottery draw for Kindergarten at our local school, I wonder about the other kids who didn’t have parents signing them up (in February) for spots all over town for the next school year? Or who didn’t “win” a spot in school? Or who live in rural districts with few, if any, kindergarten options?

Idaho must do better — because the future of our children should not be determined like a lottery ticket. Luck or which district you live in should not have anything to do with it.

Recently, the Idaho legislature voted down a $6 million grant for pre-K education on the basis that it was an attempt to “indoctrinate” young children into social justice values. Clearly many of our legislators have never stepped into a pre-K classroom, where the focus is on learning colors, shapes, and sharing one’s toys. Thankfully, another bill, SB 1193, has been proposed to bring this funding back to our young children. Furthermore, Senator Carl Crabtree and Representative Judy Boyle recently proposed a bill, HB 331, that would create more full-day Kindergarten opportunities around the state. Both pieces of legislation will benefit our children by giving them an educational leg up before first grade, but they will not pass without parents advocating for them.

Thankfully, my legislators support both early childhood education bills. Do yours? I encourage you to contact them and find out. If they aren’t supportive, why are they fighting against policies that would benefit our youngest children? Asking for the future.

Sally Spaulding

About Sally Spaulding

Sally Spaulding is a public relations consultant in Boise.

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