“The goal here is to add three simple words to state statute,” said Sen. John Goedde, R-Coeur d’Alene.
The words were “satisfactory academic progress.” And Goedde, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, sought to add those words to current state law to make “satisfactory academic progress” part of the criteria for Idaho teenagers to be enrolled in driver’s training classes. He also said he thought adding such language might serve as an enticement for students to stay in school.
The committee didn’t think the three words belonged, however, and Goedde’s legislative adjustment—known as Senate Bill 1087—was rejected on a 5-4 vote.
“We heard testimony from a driver’s training teacher in the Boise School District,” Goedde noted to his fellow committee members on Tuesday, referring to several “listening” sessions that both the House and Senate Education Committees conducted earlier in January and in February.
The committees had invited testimony from the citizenry on possible education reforms. Goedde attributed his “satisfactory academic progress” idea to one of the sessions’ participants.
“What does this proposal mean for home-schoolers?” questioned Sen. Branden Durst, D-Boise. “How do we know that they are enrolled, and how do we verify their progress?”
Goedde responded that his proposal didn’t change anything about how the progress of home-schooled students was evaluated.
“What would this mean for private schools and private school students?” asked Sen. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene. “Does this place any additional burdens on private schools?”
“It places no more burdens on private schools than it does public schools,” Goedde said.
“I appreciate that, Sen. Goedde,” Nonini replied. “But public schools receive public funds to financially handle changes like this, while private schools do not receive that funding. Furthermore, the parents who send their kids to private schools are usually already paying property taxes on top of their kids’ tuition, so they’re left to pay for the public schools that they don’t utilize.”
“I’m a bit concerned that the bill doesn’t define ‘satisfactory academic progress,’” commented Sen. Dean Mortimer, R-Idaho Falls.
“I’d like to think that we can leave that to the local school districts,” Goedde responded. “Satisfactory academic progress in the Boise School District may look quite different in another part of the state.”
“I appreciate the good work that went in to this,” said Sen. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian. “I do not have tremendously strong feelings about this matter in one direction or the other.
However, I share Sen. Nonini’s concerns about what this change might mean for private schools. For this reason, I will vote against this measure.”