Bill Description: House Bill 313 would require all public district and charter schools to provide feminine hygiene products for students in grades 6-12. The bill would increase discretionary spending by at least $735,400 on public schools for product dispensers and products. This bill would have the effect of growing the government's role in the private lives of students.
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 313 grows the government's role in the private lives of students by expanding its responsibilities to include the provision of feminine hygiene products for students. Many nonprofit, charitable organizations in the state provide these products to families who are struggling to afford basic necessities, and growing the role of government to address this private aspect of a woman’s life is unnecessary. While charities in the state are able to target those most in need, House Bill 313 does not. The bill would require all public district and charter schools to place feminine hygiene products and product dispensers in women’s and uni-sex bathroom facilities, including in schools in affluent districts.
The fundamental problem underlying the supposed need for House Bill 313 is not “period poverty” as its advocates suggest, but actual poverty. While educational achievement is a clear indicator of financial success, public schools are doing an increasingly bad job of educating children, as test scores demonstrate year after year. This is especially harmful for children who grow up in poverty. Test scores demonstrate that economically disadvantaged students have lower academic achievement than their peers. This relationship has continued despite a 24% increase in inflation-adjusted spending on every student in public schools over the last decade. Yet poor families are often left with little alternative to these failing public schools. Indeed, in many rural areas in Idaho, poor families have no option but to send their child to the assigned public school in their district.
An effective reform would not increase the already outsized role of public schools in a child’s life, but would break up the public education monopoly. Increasing students' reliance on government provision of goods and services by distributing free hygienic products will not solve the problem of poverty.
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 313 would increase spending on the government controlled public school monopoly by $735,400 to provide feminine hygiene products to students. Schools would be required to put product dispensers and products in female and unisex bathrooms. Feminine hygiene products are relatively cheap and widely accessible. The average box of feminine hygiene products costs between $5 and $8, depending on the number of items, amounting to a few thousand dollars over a woman’s lifespan. Further increasing spending to cover the cost of an affordable product does not make sense when spending on the public school system in Fiscal Year 2023 will already exceed $3.5 billion.
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