When making governmental decisions for all Idahoans, our legislators should be able to trust that the information shared by any lobbying group or institution is based in fact, and buttressed by substantive, credible evidence. Opinions are fine, but they should be portrayed as such, and not conflated to appear as fact.
As educators, we feel that citing legitimate sources is fundamental to providing quality research for busy legislators as they debate and develop policies that affect the entire state. And when we find that is not happening, we feel it is imperative that Idahoans know.
In its paper titled, “Critical Social Justice in Idaho K-12 Education,” the Idaho Freedom Foundation has failed miserably in providing factual information. In fact, their research methodology is so shoddy, it wouldn’t pass the basic research requirements of an eighth grade English class.
In sticking with the IFF’s tradition of grading legislators, we’ve done the same for the IFF and their “Research” team.
Using Primary Sources Correctly: Grade F
Websites such as “Buzz Feed” and Kootenai County GOP are not primary sources. Buzz Feed being better known for celebrity gossip, and GOP op-eds are not a research source.
Using Vetted Named Sources: Grade F
IFF is utilizing “Unnamed” sources in allegations about school districts and other public entities. When making allegations, such as they have, it is imperative to provide proven examples and sources transparently and appropriately.
“Whistle-blower teachers in Blaine County shared the training materials with Parents Defending Education, revealing that the training includes implicit bias, microaggressions.”
Using Credited Data: Grade F
Using data required and collected by the federal government to attack school districts as part of a slanted and biased agenda.
“Nampa School District collects highly sensitive and extremely personal data on children’s lives (including race, ethnicity, income level, discipline records, grades, test scores, disabilities, mental health, medical history, counseling records.)”
Using Independent Sources: Grade F
Citing a lobbying group as an independent source to further their incendiary rhetoric.
“Districts across Idaho, including West Ada, Pocatello-Chubbuck, and Coeur d’Alene, teach kids that parents are “roadblocks” to their goals, white children are privileged, and they should protest for antiracist political causes such as Black Lives Matter.” (Utah Parents United 2021).
In another example they cite their own Vice President as a source. “Meridian Middle School pressures teachers to judge students by the color of their skin.” (Hurst 2021) This is quoted from IFF Vice President Dustin Hursts’ personal tweet.
Using Bullying Tactics to Sway Decisions: Grade A
The IFF researchers do get an A for deliberately choosing inflammatory, hyperbolic rhetoric while making unfounded accusations.
“Progressive advocacy groups have succeeded in establishing a statewide framework to ensure children from cradle to college are inundated with radical gender ideology. However, these progressive triumphs are still not enough for sexual revolutionists.” (Not true, not verified, but plenty fanciful)
“Sometimes school districts quietly adopt APP curriculum, sometimes they quietly allow alternative sex education advocacy groups into the schools to offer programs. There is no transparency, so it is impossible to know what any individual school district is doing.” (Nonsensical, untrue, unsupported by factual evidence or research.)
Citing Sources and Bibliography Grade D
Formatting their sources in footnotes or end notes so they can be easily accessed and readily cross checked, rather than having to transfer to another site, which does not help with transparency.
Overall Grade: F
For poor research techniques, cherry picking information, citing opinion-based web sites as credible sources, misleading legislators and others with inflammatory rhetoric, multiple prevarications, demonizing anyone not slavishly adhering to their radical viewpoints, engaging in childish name calling, pushing to overturn sections of the Idaho and U.S. Constitutions to support their personal agenda, and seeking and accepting public federal tax dollars (which they publicly eschew) to support their anti-public education and anti-government views.
It is clear that the IFF and their “researchers” cannot be trusted as a credible source that legislators can rely upon to receive fact-based, substantive information. It is also clear that the legislature should not give credence to any reports or information that the IFF provides them when making decisions that affect all Idahoans.
All legislative decisions should be formulated based on what is best for constituents and not on behalf of a radical lobbying group that only cares about advancing its own distorted agenda.