Ronald Reagan famously used to say, “Government is not the solution to the problem. Government is the problem.”
Contrary to what Marty Trillhaase told readers of the Lewiston Tribune on Dec. 8, this was the point of my speech to the Kootenai County Republican Women. It was not, as Trillhaase reported, a State of the State address. The point of the speech was to start a conversation about the things wrong in our state and country and what can really be done to fix it.
It is a fact that there are schools in Idaho where 90% of the students can’t read, write, or do math, as measured by the results of the college entrance exam taken by nearly all Idaho government school upperclassmen. More commonly, half of all students across the state and throughout the country can’t pass basic tests that are used to measure achievement year after year.
Trillhaase says neither the State Board of Education nor the State Department of Education would own up to this painful truth when he inquired about it, which is par for the course with the state’s education oversight agencies. They continuously pepper parents with propaganda about how well schools are doing despite evidence to the contrary. It’s no different than the Biden administration pretending there’s no inflation. Government lies are normal, and the folks in the media refuse to provide accountability, either in education or economic matters.
This ongoing failure of the public school system is why the Idaho Freedom Foundation, parent groups, and legislators hope to see a universal school choice plan pass the Legislature in 2022. Despite what Trillhaase says, there’s plenty of evidence that school choice benefits people in rural areas as well as those that are more urban. As to his complaint that school choice would be a detriment to “families struggling to make ends meet” or for children with learning and physical disabilities, we believe it’s wrong to trap the most vulnerable students in underperforming schools and tell them a failing system is the best we have to offer.
It’s not. All students deserve more than mediocrity.
Trillhaase also takes exception to my statement that Medicaid, food stamps, and other government programs should be replaced with help from families, churches, and charities. He says that charities “lack the resources to compete with government programs.” Remember that government has spent the last 90 years siphoning resources from those groups, so of course they are strapped for cash.
Our proposal is to return money to the people and organizations from which the government is wrongly depriving resources. We all know that the private sector does a far better job lifting people out of poverty than government. Idaho should lead the way in getting individuals invested once again in the wellbeing of people, instead of leaving people to languish in the moral equivalent of government soup lines.
Finally, Trillhaase is upset that we’d like to see lawmakers follow through on their attempt to clear social justice from the agenda of the state’s higher education system. The fact is that lawmakers cut $2.5 million from the state’s colleges and universities and directed them to eliminate some of these programs. The state’s higher education system in response chose to sit back and do nothing, these programs in place, while raking in millions of dollars in federal aid. The Legislature’s actions didn’t even make the schools wince.
It’s far past time that the state’s colleges and universities remember that Idaho’s elected representatives and senators are the ones who make decisions about how our public higher education system is to function, not the editorial boards of the state’s papers, nor the woke unelected university presidents running our campuses. The social justice agenda is a cancer on our culture, and it’s time for state officials to hold the schools we all pay for accountable by cutting out this malignancy.
If Trillhaase heard a “State of the State address” in my comments to the Republicans in Kootenai County, maybe it’s because it’s been a long time since he’s heard anything terribly visionary from Idaho’s elected officials. Those officials are usually content to settle back and receive federal grants and enact the agenda of special interest groups like the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry, the Idaho Education Association, and Idaho Business for Education. My message is simply that it’s time to do the hard things necessary to save the state and the country by rejecting dependency on government programs and bureaucrats, because that’s the real issue holding Americans back.