Bill Description: House Bill 289 would establish the Idaho Education Opportunity program, which would give an estimated 2,000 students $6,975 per year that they could use to customize their education. The bill contains many eligibility restrictions, such as a low income cap and 90-day public school attendance requirement for eligible students, and regulations, such as testing and accreditation requirements, that compromise the benefits of the program.
Does the bill expand the existing government monopoly on education and shrink family and student choice or agency? (-) Conversely, does the bill expand the ability for families and students to choose the educational options that best meet their needs free of government intervention or coercion? (+)
House Bill 289 would establish the Idaho Education Opportunity program to give participating students $6,975 per year to use to customize their education. By giving students money to use for private school tuition, tutoring, textbooks, educational therapies and other eligible expenses, the bill would expand families’ ability to choose the educational option that works best for their child.
House Bill 289 allows the government to intervene in families' choices by placing restrictions on eligible expenses such as establishing that “qualified schools” must be accredited and that families cannot “use funds for new electronic equipment such as a laptop for the qualified student more than one (1) time every five (5) years.”
Does the bill finance education based on the student rather than the institution? (+) Conversely, does the bill finance education based on an institution or system? (-)
House Bill 289 would finance education based on the student by allocating $6,975 in state funding per participating student, which can be used toward customizing that student's education.
House Bill 289 would increase spending by $17.5 million annually for student grants. It also establishes in perpetuity that school districts will receive 20% of funds for students who they are not educating, therefore increasing spending per student on the existing public school monopoly system. Although most school choice programs across the country only allocate a portion of state per student funding, they do not mandate that the remaining funding must be spent in perpetuity on public schools. Rather, the remaining funds are considered state savings which could be put to other uses. House Bill 289 , however, mandates that “The remaining twenty percent (20%) shall be distributed to a recipient's prior school district if the recipient still resides within the district or the charter school that the student attended.”
Does the bill decrease barriers to entry for teachers and other education professionals or services, thus incentivizing entrepreneurship and increasing the supply of options for education services in the marketplace? (+) Conversely, does the bill create barriers to entry into the education marketplace? (-)
House Bill 289 would remove a barrier to entry to the education marketplace for some people by allowing education dollars to follow a small number of students to the education environment their family chooses. This would decentralize the public education monopoly in a small way. The passage of House Bill 298 would incentivize some innovation by encouraging education entrepreneurs to enter the marketplace and provide higher quality products at a lower price.
House Bill 289 imposes state testing requirements on participating students. Regulations such as testing requirements are intended to guarantee quality, but they have had the opposite effect. Quality private schools that have little trouble filling their seats are less likely to accept state funds if they decide that the regulations are too burdensome. Regulations such as testing requirements impede the proper function of the market. High-quality schools may be discouraged from receiving state-aided students, but low-quality schools that struggled with having enough students will do whatever the state requires. This dynamic dooms the quality and success of the program. Testing requirements hurt choice because test results fail to capture most of the benefits produced by choice schools, such as their alignment with families’ values and preferences and the unique needs of diverse students.
House Bill 289 requires parents to demonstrate that the “student is at grade level or has improved by one (1) grade level through a nationally normed assessment test.” This is not only a barrier for families to continue to receive funding, but is an unjust expectation, as such a standard is not currently required of public schools. If it were, public schools would barely receive any funding. Under this regulation, a student who is two years behind academically and leaves a public school to go to a private school and makes 90% of a year’s worth of progress would be kicked out of the program. This barrier thus creates a strong disincentive for schools to take the kids most in need.
Does the bill create more transparency or accountability in public education institutions? (+) Conversely, does the bill reduce transparency and accountability in such institutions? (-)
House Bill 289 would promote accountability by allowing parents to make decisions about the education of their children. Parents who misuse funds would be removed from the program. The State Department of Education may contract with a third party to conduct annual audits of accounts but is not required to do so.
Does the bill reinforce the idea of equal treatment under the law, merit, individual responsibility, personal agency, and expectations of academic excellence? (+) Conversely, does the bill allow for any type of discrimination against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group for any purpose on the basis of race, sex, color, economic class, ethnicity, national origin, geographic area, legacy status, or other identity group? (-)
Under the House Bill 289, students are only eligible to participate in the program if they “have been enrolled in a public school for at least ninety (90) days ... unless the student participated in the … program in kindergarten.” School choice programs should not discriminate between public and private or alternative school students. The state should not deny existing private school students funding when those same students would immediately be fully funded in an existing public school.
House Bill 289 would allow only students with a household income less than $40,000 to participate in the program. The state should not discriminate against students based on their socioeconomic status. All students deserve equal opportunity to access the educational environment or provider that works best for them.
House Bill 289 does not allow existing home school students to participate in the program. The bill states “A student approved for an IEOP grant, by this definition, is not home schooled.”
Does the bill protect freedom of speech in teaching or learning? (+) Conversely, does the bill restrict freedom of speech in teaching or learning? (-)
House Bill 289 would protect the independence of nonpublic schools by providing that the legislation would not require any of these schools to alter their creeds, practices, admissions policy, or curriculum.
Please log in again. The login page will open in a new tab. After logging in you can close it and return to this page.