Bill Description: House bill 339 would establish that the legislature will submit the following advisory ballot question: “Should the state of Idaho, the Idaho Legislature, or any state agency direct or appropriate public tax dollars to private K-12 schools, including private religious schools, and for-profit schools?” The advisory vote would take place during the November 2024 statewide general election.
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 339 would subject to majority approval the fact that families should be given the ability to choose the educational option that best meets their needs free of government intervention or coercion.
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 339 would subject to majority approval whether or not the state should finance education based on the student instead of the public school system.
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 339 would reduce accountability by subjecting to majority approval parents' right to direct their children’s education and care by deciding how tax dollars set aside for their child’s education should be used. This is a principle that should be protected by elected representatives and not based on the majority's opinion.
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? (-)
The question placed on the ballot under House Bill 339 ignores the Supreme Court decision in Espinoza v. Montana Department of Revenue, that when a state chooses to subsidize private education, it cannot exclude religious schools simply because of their religious character. It also ignores another Supreme Court ruling reaffirming the rights of religious schools to participate in neutral assistance programs in Carson v. Makin, which determined that funding from a student-aid program can be used for religious instruction. Both these rulings overturned Idaho’s Blaine Amendment, a provision in the state constitution that prevents public funds from going to the aid of religious schools. Idaho's Blaine amendment is now considered dead law.
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