By Brian Almon


On Monday, the education establishment pitched their vision for the public school system to the House and Senate Education Committees.


State Superintendent of Public Instruction Debbie Critchfield, State Board of Education President Kurt Liebich, and Idaho Education Association President Layne McInelly took turns extolling the public school system, asking for ever more taxpayer money and, of course, rejecting any suggestion that money should follow students to wherever they get an education


Corporate media, left-wing activists at Reclaim Idaho, and the state’s education establishment have seized upon the term “voucher” as a way to scare families away from supporting school choice. But vouchers are simply one method of providing school choice to families. While vouchers allow families to take taxpayer dollars to private schools, there is another option called an Education Savings Account (ESA) which gives parents complete flexibility in customizing their children’s educational needs. They are not the same thing.


Asked about ESAs in the morning session before the House committee, Critchfield attempted to confuse the issue, saying that she did not support vouchers. Senator Tammy Nichols did not let her off so easily in the afternoon, clarifying that ESAs were not vouchers and again asking the superintendent for her position.


Critchfield laid out her stance much more clearly than she ever did during last year’s campaign, saying, “I am not prepared to be an advocate for public funds going to private schools.”


The Idaho State Constitution requires the government to establish a public school system, but there is no stipulation that it must resemble the current system, which is run by an intractable bureaucracy and a far-left teacher’s union.


No matter how many so-called conservatives are in the State Legislature, the public school bureaucracy remains as leftist as California. They push divisive racial doctrines, graphic and deviant sexual ideas, and socialist activism, all the while failing to educate children in the fundamentals.


Critchfield and her bureaucratic friends say they support school choice, but it is an illusion. For example, Democratic Senator Carrie Semmelroth boasted that a Heritage Foundation report placed Idaho third in the nation in what they called “school choice.” In fact, Idaho actually lost ground on Heritage’s report because we still do not have true school choice. Supporters of the current system — such as Critchfield — tout the Empowering Parents grant, which allows students to use up to $3,000 per family to explore alternate routes through the public education system. True school choice, on the other hand, allows families to use their taxpayer dollars in what manner suits them best.


Private schools and homeschooling exist as options for families who can afford the time and money, but what about those who cannot? Critchfield and her bureaucratic friends believe that students who cannot afford superior options should be locked into a system that fails to educate and instead indoctrinates children with radical Marxist ideologies.


If Idaho adopts true school choice, as conservative states throughout the nation are doing right now, it will not come from Critchfield, Gov. Little, or anyone else in power. No, it will have to come from the grassroots, from ordinary families struggling in low-performing school districts or dealing with woke ideology being shoved down their students’ throats, who put pressure on their lawmakers to create a real and lasting change in the public education system.