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Idaho’s political and education leaders should mistrust education establishment programs

Idaho’s political and education leaders should mistrust education establishment programs

Idaho Freedom Foundation staff
August 9, 2022

Action Idaho | Special to Idaho Freedom Foundation

The Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children (IAEYC) is a state affiliate for the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Idaho leaders must come to recognize that putting an “I” in front of this leftist national organization does not make it conservative.

The NAEYC’s leftist bent has been ably demonstrated elsewhere. It specializes in “anti-bias education” for teachers that hold that America is systemically racist and sexist. It also pushes an “anti-bias” curriculum with books that shame white children for being “privileged” and with plans to promote student activism through promoting environmental activism, LGBTQ+ rights and other woke causes. It peddles intersectionality. It is concerned with normalizing transgenderism. It promotes hiding gender transitioning from parents. It encourages political activism. It checks every box.

Is the Idaho affiliate any different? Generally, state affiliates follow the lead of national organizations. The Idaho ACLU follows the lead from the national ACLU. Idaho’s Planned Parenthood embraces the ideology of the national Planned Parenthood organization. Idaho Education Association follows the lead of the National Education Association in wanting more funding, more social justice programming, and less accountability for schools and teachers.

And IAEYC does follow NAEYC, though that fact is inconvenient. Two legislative sessions ago, the Idaho House rejected a $6 million federal grant to IAEYC. While the debate was underway, IAEYC started to hide its true colors. It removed a radical recommended book list from its website. IAEYC took down links to anti-bias education—links are archived here.

The old website used to say “idaeyc: an affiliate of naeyc”—that is now gone, and replaced with the inset picture. IAEYC is funded through the Kellogg Foundation, a national group that pushes anti-racism, transformative SEL, and other cutting edge, left-wing educational practices and curriculum. Beth Oppenheimer, one of the most leftist trustees of the Boise School District, is the head of IDAEYC.

Despite this evidence, many Idaho’s politicians and education leaders do not seem to know that IAEYC follows its national organization. They sided with Beth Oppenheimer against the conservatives in their own party.

Senators Jim Risch and Mike Crapo both praised the “pre-school development grant” that will prepare Idaho children for kindergarten and beyond. That is true in a way, but IAEYC’s vision of development is not what the senators would endorse in public. IAEYC’s idea of development is not reading and self-discipline—it is anti-American, white shaming curriculum and radical gender theory.

Gov. Brad Little was disappointed when the IAEYC grant was voted down. “The evidence is overwhelming,” Little told the Idaho Press Club, “that what we do for these kids early is something that is good for Idaho and good for our students.” Notice the vagueness. “What we do” presumes that IAEYC will do what Gov. Little would do. Gov. Little does not know “what THEY do.”

Debbie Critchfield, now the Republican nominee to head Idaho’s education department, is also unaware of the woke takeover of language. “Early childhood literacy is a priority area of concern and focus for the State Board of Education,” Critchfield said in a release while the legislature was deliberating. “This federal grant is an opportunity to fortify local communities with resources to help families prepare their children to be ready to learn.” Literacy seems good, but its meaning has changed. The old idea of literacy involved sounding out words and learning to read. The new idea of literacy means things like “racial literacy” and "gender literacy" that allow students to see through the white-dominated or heteronormative power structures that are said to govern American society.

Senator Pro Tem Chuck Winder and State Board of Education President Kurt Liebich make much the same mistake, thinking that left-wing groups mean conservative things when they say “development” or “literacy.”

Let us be charitable without being naive. These Idaho leaders should know better. Old words now have new meanings. The old literacy is not the new literacy. The old idea of development is not the new idea of development. The old idea of “what we do” is not the same idea promoted today.

America’s large foundations and America’s education establishment are pushing all manner of left-wing educational practices on the states. Every educational entity is captured by woke ideology, though some entities are more aggressive than others in pushing it. They are especially interested in gaining territory in red states.

Idaho's leaders either do not want to know this or they have too optimistic a view of federal grants. They may even think that it is their job to attract more federal grants. This kind of attitude must stop. Idaho's leaders should always look under the hood to ensure that federal grants do not require the state to adopt practices that undermine the American way of life. The times demand greater responsibility, and Idaho's new leaders must be willing to do the hard work to see when an apparent deal is really a lemon.

Note: This commentary was first posted by Action Idaho.

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