DATE: February 17, 2006
FROM: Idaho Coalition of Home Educators
SUBJECT: Next Step Toward Mandatory Preschool

Senate Bill 1344 will open the gate to lower the compulsory school age by granting public schools authority to get into the business of preschool, daycare, and nursery care for children from infancy on up. In a single dramatic step, it would eliminate the current five year minimum age requirement for registration in public schools. It would allow public schools to set up preschooling, day care programs, and nursery facilities for all children, regardless of age.

How will this affect home education? While the bill does not initially require schools to offer programs for children under the age of 6 years, history demonstrates that what is initially optional in the educational arena inexorably becomes mandatory in due course. Early childhood education advocates have been clear in announcing their goal of mandatory preschool for all children, including home schoolers.

This is the most far reaching of three proposed bills on this issue. If this bill can be soundly defeated, the others may be withdrawn. A copy of the bill may be read on line at http://www3.state.id.us/oasis/S1344.html.


In the face of steadily declining academic achievement by public school students, educators have for decades pressed for rules lowering the age at which children will be forced to begin their schooling. At the same time they have relentlessly challenged the government to spend more on public education with promises of enhanced achievement test results.

Unfortunately, the promised results have proven illusory. Data now shows a persistently inverse relationship between increased educational spending and lower mandatory school age, on the one hand, and academic achievement on the other. The more the government spends per child and the earlier it requires children to embark on their public school education, the worse those children fare academically in the long run. But undeterred, the educators continue to press their cause to expand their authority over all children in the state.

An excellent and well-documented article on the subject is available at the HSLDA website at http://www.hslda.org/docs/nche/000000/00000028.asp. Another informative piece on the perils of "early childhood education" programs may be found at http://www.afhe.org/resources/articles/early_schooling_cheri_fuller.pdf.

When a government program is not working, it is important to remember that sometimes more is not better. Sometimes it is just more.

A study of academic achievement among countries based on the age of compulsory education is instructional. In northern Europe, Finland and Sweden are neighbors. In many ways they are alike. But on the subject of compulsory education they are dramatically different. Finland does not require formal education until a child is seven years old. Sweden offers government childcare and preschool down to one year of age. Yet students in Finland are consistently among the most successful academically in the world while Sweden's students are average at best.

State and federal governments in this country already spend nearly $10 billion dollars per year on early childhood education programs. Yet this bill suggests that this massive expansion of government services can be accomplished in Idaho without spending taxpayer dollars. While any such promise should be met with a degree of skepticism, the present request for a quantum expansion of the government's educational jurisdiction should be opposed as counterproductive. Why should Idaho go the way of the other states and countries that have enacted such disastrous education policies and programs? Not only are they prohibitively expensive, they have failed to generate any discernible improvement in the academic achievement of a state's public school students.

In order to keep this unwise proposal from becoming the law of the state of Idaho, your immediate help is needed. The bill will proceed through four steps before it goes to the Governor for his signature. If it can be defeated at any of those steps, the bill will be dead for this session. The first step will occur this Wednesday when the bill will be presented and debated before the Senate Education Committee. ICHE will testify against the bill at that hearing, but your voice can and must be heard by the Committee members prior to the hearing.


FIRST: Hundreds of messages must be sent this weekend through Tuesday, asking the committee to OPPOSE SB 1344. Follow the email instructions below.

SECOND: Forward this alert to those who will join us in opposing this bill.

THIRD: Starting 8 a.m. Monday morning, begin calling the switchboard.

Each member of your family should send both an email and a telephone message

  1. Print a copy of this Alert and then follow these instructions.

  2. By EMAIL: Go to http://capwiz.com/hslda/issues/alert/?alertid=8491386
    1. Be courteous and respectful. Thank the Senator for his or her service.
    2. Salutation: Will be filled in automatically.
    3. Subject line: Oppose SB 1344
    4. Text: Please limit to 3 sentences. Your message is not spell-checked. You need not mention that you home educate.
      1. Although early childhood education produces a short term increase in academic achievement, studies show that by second grade the students who did not receive early childhood education catch up with those who did.
      2. Parental involvement in education is the single most important factor in long term academic achievement. Early childhood education programs erode the expectation of active parental participation.
      3. These programs will unavoidably weaken the bond of the family by offering alternatives to the traditional preschool presence of the child at home with his or her biological parents. The state must never intentionally do anything that will undercut the family unit.
      4. While the bill purports to make these programs optional, history shows us that there will be subsequent pressure to make them mandatory, universal, and funded with taxpayer dollars.
      5. Why should Idaho spend funds for a massive educational program that has no long term benefit and potentially produces long term detriment for children and families?

  3. By TELEPHONE: Call the Legislative switchboard at (208) 332-1000 or toll free at 1-800-626-0471 and leave a single message to be delivered to the Senate Education Committee members and to your Senator. Please do not call your Senator at home.

  4. By FAX: (208) 334-5397. Letters must include your complete address, phone number, and email address (if any).
    1. Salutation: "Dear Senator (last name):"
    2. Committee members: Senators Goedde, Jorgenson, Schroeder, Andreason, Gannon, Pearce, Fulcher, Burkett, and Marley
    3. Text: See section 2.d. in the email instructions, above.

To join ICHE and receive email alerts, go to www.iche-idaho.org.

In order to provide the most effective email services, we are using the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) legislative mail system. In keeping with our commitment to preserve your confidentiality, our address list has not been shared with HSLDA or with any other organization.

Thank you for taking the time to respond.

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