School choice still on the table for Idaho

March 3, 2023

By Tim Worstall

In March 2022, Accuracy in Media released an investigation into Idaho schools in the first of our videos that showed that Critical Race Theory bans do not deter teachers from teaching it.

A lot has changed since then, and thanks in part to AIM’s investigation, some members of the Idaho House who opposed school choice lost their reelection bids. And what has happened shows exactly why this investigative work is so important.

A school choice bill in Idaho has just been voted down by the State Senate. The bill failed the full Senate on a 12-23 vote. This was after the House had passed it (of course) and after significant delay in getting it out of the Senate education committee.

Given the recent defeat we might think that’s it as far as school choice is concerned. But there are still three bills being considered, each less than the Full Monty of what might be desired. The issue is still alive even if the most recent bill isn’t.

There have been at least 14 bills that have some impact on the school systems in just the past two months (of course some of this concentration is just because the legislature is in session). The really interesting part there is that none of those bills, suggestions, or amendments are about reducing or limiting school choice. We’re clearly in a world where the base argument has been won and we’re now talking about the details.

Given the failure of this particular school choice bill, others are being considered in the Idaho legislature this session. Calling lawmakers to support the idea works – lawmakers are supposed to respond to their voters, after all. And a study conducted in 2019 shows that the majority of Idaho parents and Idahoans are in favor of school choice.

If the politicians won’t listen to the populace, the choice is to replace the politicians the next time the population gets the chance. Thanks in part to AIM’s investigation, some members of the Idaho House who opposed school choice lost their reelection bids. The Idaho Freedom Foundation discussed those changes here and here.

Because that’s how democracy works too – politicians don’t do what the people who vote for them desire and then vote for some other politicians. And, here’s the great value of this. It only takes one or two of the politicians to have to change their careers, spend more time with their families, and for all those others to sit up and take notice.

The school choice argument is really, really, simple. The correct people to decide on their children’s education are the parents of those children. If politicians won’t allow that then decide to have different politicians. Because that’s what democracy is, that the people get what the people want.

School choice – proper, full school choice – is now part of the standard political conversation in Idaho. It hasn’t happened yet because that’s how politics works, sometimes there is that “once more into the breach, dear friends” necessary. Which is exactly what is happening.


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