Weekly Column: Supporting Idaho Children And Families
Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo
Anyone needing a reminder about fellow parents’ depth of love for their children just needs to witness a kindergarten drop off on the first day of school. Parents love their children dearly and want what is best for them. Making it possible for parents to be actively engaged in their children’s education provides the best outcome for students, and children deserve an education free of politically biased curriculum.
Throughout my time representing Idahoans, I have fought to protect parents’ rights to be actively involved in their children’s education; this includes parents who have concerns about curriculum and putting politics in the classroom. Some recent examples of related efforts over the past year are as follows:
In October 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) directed federal law enforcement to create a task force to address alleged threats against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff. The directive followed a letter from the National School Boards Association (NSBA) that compared grassroots demonstrations and protests by concerned parents against harmful school policies affecting their children to “domestic terrorism and hate crimes.” In response, I joined a Senate resolution to push back on the DOJ’s threats to use federal law enforcement resources to intimidate and silence law-abiding parents wishing to express their dissatisfaction with school board decisions. Parents must have direct influence over their children’s future as active, engaged and valued participants in their local schools’ decision-making.
I also joined a Republican letter to U.S. Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona to demand answers on reports that he played a key role in orchestrating the NSBA letter. We stressed, “Parents are not ‘domestic terrorists’ and it is appalling that anyone would suggest that exercising the constitutionally protected freedoms of speech and assembly would be characterized as a threat.”
Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a highly contentious issue, and I support Idaho’s restriction on CRT from being taught in public schools. Consistent with this law, schools should work to cultivate an environment that fosters unity and encourages students to value one another, as well as the great country in which we live.
Along the same lines, I demanded the Biden Administration withdraw a proposal that sought to reorient the bipartisan American History and Civics Education programs away from their intended purpose toward a politicized and divisive agenda.
I have also joined my Republican colleagues in actively pushing back against the Biden Administration’s radical Title IX re-interpretation, which overrides existing state laws, ignores parental rights and undercuts equal opportunities for women and girls in education--including in athletics. In an effort to counter this extreme rule, I co-sponsored S. 251, the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act, which would protect athletic opportunities for women and girls by making it a violation of Title IX for schools to allow a biological male to compete in an athletic program designed for women or girls.
Additionally, I joined my Republican colleagues in raising concerns with the Biden Administration seeking to withhold federal funding for programs such as school meals from states it does not feel properly abide by its radical Title IX interpretation. In a letter to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, we emphasized that “the purpose of these programs is to feed children,” and that “in no way should this funding be contingent upon local school practices that are wholly irrelevant to that purpose.”
I also recently co-sponsored S. 4892, the Parental Rights Over the Education and Care of Their (PROTECT) Kids Act, to protect parental rights by preventing schools from concealing information about students’ education and well-being.
Parents are best positioned to make educational decisions that best fit the needs and circumstances of Idaho students. The fundamental importance of parental involvement in children’s lives must be supported rather than eroded by unreasonable heavy-handed government policies. I will continue to fight policies that ignore this reality and push for the enactment of laws that protect Idaho families’ involvement in their children’s education.