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ICHE Alert #2: 5 Bad Bills to Oppose

DATE: February 20, 2006
FROM: Idaho Coalition of Home Educators
SUBJECT: THE SWARMING BEGINS

      A second bill, House Bill 623, which will open the door to make kindergarten mandatory for all students including home schoolers, will also be heard this Wednesday. Your response is needed immediately.
BACKGROUND:
      There now appear to be at least five bills that are seeking to require parents to begin formal schooling for their children at an earlier age. When the compulsory age is lowered, it becomes a requirement for all children in the state, including those taught at home or in private schools. It seems that advocates for "early childhood education" are hoping that at least one of these bills might actually make it through the session while home schoolers and others are busy repelling other similar bills. In the epic battle scenes in the Lord of the Rings and the Narnia movies, the antagonists tried to use sheer numbers to overwhelm the protagonists. The plan was that, while the good guys were busy defending against some of the assaults, one or more of the stealth forces of darkness would be able to penetrate the fortress and defeat the good guys. It begins to look like a similar swarming tactic is unfolding in the legislature this session.
      Here is the current lineup of the bills and the websites at which they may each be viewed. House Bill 623 and Senate Bill 1344 will be heard this Wednesday:

  1. House Bill 623: Will delete the Idaho Code section that makes the offering of public school kindergarten programs voluntary for each school district. It will also delete a provision that protects parents from being required to enroll their children in public school kindergarten. http://www3.state.id.us/oasis/H0623.html
  2. Senate Bill 1253: Instead of merely permitting public schools to offer kindergarten programs, this bill would now require that they do so. http://www3.state.id.us/oasis/S1253.html
  3. Senate Bill 1241: This bill would, for the first time, permit public school districts to offer pre-kindergarten programs to students as young as 4 years of age. http://www3.state.id.us/oasis/S1241.html
  4. Senate Bill 1344: This bill would permit public schools to offer pre-kindergarten, preschool, and daycare programs to children from birth on, regardless of age. The bill purports to offer this option at no cost to Idaho's taxpayers. http://www3.state.id.us/oasis/S1344.html
  5. Senate Bill 1381: Introduces the infrastructure for a massive new governmental program of early childhood education, initially for those 4 years of age or older. http://www3.state.id.us/oasis/S1381.html

Why These Bills Should Be Opposed:
      There are a number of reasons why these bills aimed at lowering the compulsory school age should be opposed by both home schoolers and by every citizen of the state:
      Institutional Early Childhood Education is Counter-Productive: Significant data now demonstrates that, while early childhood education programs produce a short-term increase in academic achievement, by the second grade that initial advantage has typically evaporated. There is additional information demonstrating that children placed in an institutional school setting prior to age seven actually suffer an educational "burnout" of sorts that slows them down in later years. When young children are forced to learn subjects about which they may not currently be curious, it saps their natural curiosity
      Institutional Early Childhood Education Erodes the Strength of the Family: For decades, educators have known that the single most important factor in a child's educational achievement is the degree of involvement by the parents in that child's education. That factor, by itself, explains much of the phenomenal achievement enjoyed by families who choose to home educate. To the extent that the public school system intrudes further into the early years, that natural role of the parent as teacher is undercut, even when the programs are initially optional.
      Optional Programs Eventually Become Mandatory: One aspect of educational programs that is evident even in the list of bills, above, is that they tend to migrate from initially "optional" programs into eventual "mandatory" programs. Public schools did not initially offer kindergarten programs. Then they were permitted to offer them on an optional basis. Now, Senate Bills 623 and 1253 will convert those previously optional programs into mandatory programs. The new pre-kindergarten and preschool programs, that would be optional under Senate Bills 1241 and 1344, will just as assuredly become mandatory in due course.
      Invasion of Private Industry: For many years, those parents forced or wishing to place their children in preschool or daycare settings have had many private programs from which to choose. If this effort moves forward, what has traditionally been a private educational realm will quickly become an exclusively public school option. If competing programs are set up in the public schools and are eventually taxpayer funded, most private programs will waste away. This will become a public takeover of a successful private industry at taxpayer expense.
      Waste of Taxpayer Funds: Ultimately, every bill considered by the legislature must answer three important questions. What will it accomplish? How much will it cost? And is the benefit worth the expense? In this case, it is very doubtful that the bills will actually attain the desired goal of improved academic achievement. The cost, while perhaps minimal at the outcome, will become massive when the programs have become fully implemented, mandatory, and taxpayer funded. On an expense/benefit analysis, the bills must be regarded as a waste of taxpayer funds.
      The foregoing information is provided so that Idaho's citizens (and particularly it's home schooling citizens) might step forward to speak in opposition to the swarm of bills currently on the move in the legislature. For additional excellent information on the subject of early childhood education, see this article at the HSLDA website. Another informative piece on the perils of such programs may be found here (PDF, 17K).
      Making our voices heard this year will require an unprecedented vigilance on our parts. If we tire of the battle, one or more of the bills will become law and our freedoms will be diminished by a bulging educational bureaucracy.
      If you have not already contacted your Senator and the members of the Senate Education Committee regarding Senate Bill 1344, please do so immediately on this page. The committee vote on that bill will occur on Wednesday afternoon, February 22nd.
      The other bill now under consideration is House Bill 623 which is scheduled to be heard by the House Education Committee at 8:00 a.m. on Wednesday, February 22nd. To make your voice heard on that bill, please follow these instructions:

ACTION:

FIRST: As many messages as possible must be sent between now and Wednesday morning, asking the committee to OPPOSE HB 623. Follow the email instructions below.

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

THIRD: : Immediately begin calling the switchboard from 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

TO CONTACT THE COMMITTEE: 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:
    1. Go to http://capwiz.com/hslda/issues/alert/?alertid=8491411. Follow the simple on-screen instructions. Your email will automatically be delivered to each committee member and to your two Representatives.
      1. Be courteous and respectful. Thank the Representative for his or her service.
      2. Salutation: Will be filled in automatically.
      3. Subject line: Oppose HB 623.
      4. Text: Please limit to 3 sentences. Your message is not spell-checked. Using your own words, include one of the following points or compose your own:
        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. Those programs which are initially optional will become mandatory in due course. Please stop the creeping intrusion of the state into ever-younger arenas of education.


  3. By TELEPHONE: Call the Legislative switchboard at (208) 332-1000 or toll free at 1-800-626-0471. Leave a single message to be delivered to your Senator, and to Senator Geddes, the bill's sponsor. Tell the operator that you live in the Senator's district, then ask him or her to "Please support Marriage Amendment HJR2 to let the people vote." 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 Representative (Last Name):"
    2. Committee members: Representatives Barraclough, Rydalch, Trail, Bradford, Block, Cannon, Nielsen, Shirley, Wills, Chadderdon, Kemp, Mathews, Nonini, Shepherd, Brackett, Boe, Mitchell, Pence.
    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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