Voices from the Idaho EdNews Community

Let’s elect someone who wants quality education for all Idaho’s children

Rodd Rapp

Idaho’s public education system narrowly escaped some dramatic damage this legislative session: the relentless push for school vouchers. These government-funded private school scholarships divert taxpayer dollars away from our local schools while benefiting the wealthiest families in our state.

As a former member of the Bonneville School District Board of Trustees who should understand the dangers of vouchers, it is disappointing that Rep. Wendy Horman is a champion of said vouchers. Horman’s website clearly states that “Wendy is a passionate advocate for Idaho’s children to receive a quality education.” Just perhaps, not all of Idaho’s children.

School vouchers claim choice and flexibility, but their track record tells a different story. In state after state, they’ve led to ballooning costs, failed to improve academic achievement, and lacked accountability for taxpayer funds. Instead of addressing the pressing needs of our local schools, they primarily benefit students already enrolled in private schools. When the Arizona legislature passed their voucher law, proponents said it would cost $33.4 million in the first year and $65 million in the second year. Instead, the cost of the universal program skyrocketed to $550 million the first year and more than $800 million this school year.

Gov. Little called out the need for billions of dollars to address Idaho’s crumbling public school buildings in his State of the State address. His plan was in response to a 2022 report from the Office of Performance Evaluation showing nearly 60 percent of district leaders described their school condition as “fair” or “poor.”

So with the option to address safe and hospitable learning environments, or put money back in the pockets of Ada County’s wealthiest families–Horman spent her energy on the latter. Unfortunately this suggests a loyalty to party elites and the Capital city than neighbors and constituents in Idaho Falls.

If you don’t have children in the public school system, don’t worry, this affects you too. State education budgets directly affect your taxes, quality education influences abilities of future employees, and it’s directly connected to the overall success of the community you live in.

While the legislative session has closed for the year, the threat looms large for 2025 as the lawmakers who support vouchers remain comfortably in their legislative seats. Plus out-of-state interests and PACs like the American Federation for Children are sinking funds into pushing issues. What’s worse–education is simply one topic where our elected leaders disregarded the will of their voters.

Thankfully, for voters of the greater Idaho Falls area, it’s an election year.

Given these significant drawbacks, it’s crucial that we advocate for legislative change. May 21 is the Republican Primary–arguably the most important election of the year since it will determine candidates that are supposed to be the voice of their community at the statehouse. Primaries are where decisions are made, where accountability matters most.

Rep. Horman is being challenged in her seat by fellow Republican Sean Colleti–the much loved Mayor of Ammon. Mayor Sean has shown that he actually does want to enhance local education, support small businesses and make sure our voices are listened to in the legislative process. As the father of school-aged children, Coletti understands the importance of investing in our public schools and ensuring that every child has access to a quality education.

I encourage my fellow district 32 voters to read up on the legislative candidates. As you do, decide which person is going to truly prioritize education, share values with their voters, listen to their constituents, and build a brighter future for all Idahoans. My vote will be reserved for Sean Coletti.

Rodd Rapp

Rodd Rapp

Rodd Rapp is a longtime Idaho Falls educator and retired School Achievement Specialist at Bonneville Joint School District and currently serves as the Instruction and Curriculum Specialist at Monticello Charter School.

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