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Eye On Boise

Early learning standards a communist plot?

The Idaho House has just wrapped up a rambling debate and killed HCR 18 on early learning standards. Check out this report from S-R reporter Parker Howell:

The House rejected a nonbinding resolution asking state agencies to develop learning standards for young children and to create a quality-based ranking system for distributing federal childcare money to preschools. Some opponents of HCR 18 compared the proposal to Communist Russia and said it infringes on parents’ role in raising kids. But supporters said better standards are necessary to help low-income children and kids of single mothers.

Rep. Lenore Barrett, R-Challis, said asking the Idaho Health and Welfare and Education departments to create standards eliminates market forces. It’s a “worthy goal, maybe, but it’s pie in the sky and it just gives us warm, fuzzy legislation,” she said. “In Old Russia, the state owned children for all intents and purposes” while women dug ditches and the “truly talented people defected. …This is not the proper role of government,” she said. The House voted 43-27 against the bill.

Rep. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene, chairman of the House Education Committee, called the resolution an end-run around childcare licensing requirements proposed by Rep. George Sayler, D-Coeur d’Alene, that died in another House committee a week ago. “I can share with the body that this legislation is the proverbial camel’s nose under the tent,” Nonini said. “I think it’s a road we don’t want to go down.”

Sponsors, however, said the bill encourages competition and offers only suggestions. “This bill does not require anything of anyone,” said co-sponsor Rep. Branden Durst, D-Boise. Discussing recipients of the Idaho Child Care Program, which subsidizes childcare for low-income, working Idahoans, Rep. Margaret Henbest, D-Boise, said, “Very often, these are single mothers, and we all have an opinion about that, but like it or not, there are single mothers in Idaho.”

She told the House, “This is not the fearful, communistic plot that you think it is,” but was outvoted.

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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