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Sounds like a winner

Steven Thayn
Steven Thayn

So far Idaho House Concurrent Resolution 24 remains in the House Education Committee, but there’s no denying it sounds like a winner in the Idaho House.

Here is its statement of purpose:

This concurrent resolution points out the importance of the parental role in the education and training of children. It emphasizes that early childhood education can be, and should be, delivered by parents in a home environment. It encourages the Idaho State Board of Education and the Idaho Department of Education to work with parents, rather than with the children under the age of five, except in unusual situations. It also encourages the Department of Education to post on its website, in a form that parents may easily access, the skills and attitudes they feel are necessary for children to learn before they enter kindergarten.

Reflecting, in that last sentence, an apparent need for the state to tell parents how to raise their early-age kids.

It is sponsored by freshman Representative Steven Thayn, R-Emmett (with support from House Majority Leader Mike Moyle). Introduced just recently, on February 22, it appears to be a response to several early-child measures this session which have been dealt with so far in the normal Idaho House fashion – deep-sixed.

This is not a group, of course, with much use for either social programs or regulation. But the core argument against the measures appeared to stem from variations on the comment by Representative Tom Loertscher, R-Iona: “What can we do to keep mom at home?”

The reaction to that has generated some unusually strong commentary. Could it be to the point that some of it actually sinks in on the solid Republican constituency?

Don’t hold your breath on that last. But the comments are pretty strong.

Idaho Statesman Editorial Page Editor Kevin Richert, usually mild of speech, wrote of HCR 24, “It’s hard to read this scary little proposal as anything less than a pre-emptive strike against moving Idaho’s pre-k into the 21st century.” And, “The underlying message from the Statehouse is hard to misread: This Legislature really feels like the government has no meaningful responsibility to help parents raise young kids … Some lawmakers prefer to live in a decade of Ozzie and Harriet and a state of denial.”

(Except, of course, for the instructions from the good Republicans at the state Department of Education.)

When the House Health and Welfare Committee set about to consider House Bill 163, a measure to tighten regulation of day care in the state, the majority’s view seemed set. Here’s how the Spokesman-Review’s Betsy Russell described the scene on her blog:

The House Health and Welfare Committee kept backers of the day-care licensing bill waiting until long after 5 p.m. for a hearing that was scheduled to start at 1:30 – after it was put off last week – then limited them to three minutes apiece to testify in favor of the bill. A stunned Cathy Kowalski, a Coeur d’Alene early childhood consultant who has worked on the bill for three years, said, “I think it is a committee whose members are definitely out of touch with the needs of their constituents, and I think the working families in their districts need to let them know.” Sylvia Chariton, who testified in favor of the bill on behalf of the American Association of University Women of Idaho, said, “It’s ridiculous – those men live in a time warp, when 60 percent of all mothers of children under 6 years of age take them someplace to be cared for.”

Afterward, the sponsor, Representative George Sayler, D-Coeur d’Alene delivered an unusually blunt indictment: “The vote reflects the fact that the committee members are out of touch with reality. This is a worthwhile bill that has been around for the past 20 years, yet we refuse to enact meaningful safety standards for our own children.”

From outside the state, there was also – today – this: A report by the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies on “on 15 basic criteria related to their current child care center standards and oversight.” Washington came in fourth nationally with a score of 89, and Oregon a middling 36th with a score of 64 – and Idaho came in dead last, behind all other states, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense (which, as it happens, scored very well). Its score of 15 was even way behind second-worst Louisiana’s 37.

Will any of this make a political impression? That depends in great part on how the voting majority in Idaho defines the term “family friendly.”

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  1. Joe Moran Joe Moran March 2, 2007

    Rep. Thayn’s advice to Parents seems to be an attempt by him of covering up the failure of the House health and welfare committee’s to ensure a better regulated Day care system for Idaho’s children. Parents don’t need advice from the State as to how to raise and care for their pre-school children,Rep. Thayn…what they need especially in the terrible economic climate Idaho’s politicians have created is assurance that the day care center their child is in is safe,well regulated , and has employees that have passed stringent background checks. The States failure to assure them of this ,Rep. Thayn can not be covered up by your pontificating child care advice. Parents would prefer you do your job and not only make sure that only the best day care centers keep their state licenses but that you and Idaho’s entire legislature make financial assistance programs more readily available to parents struggling to get their children the BEST care possible.

  2. Chuck Butcher Chuck Butcher March 2, 2007

    I’m sure you’re exactly right Joe, the problem is you’re addressing an Idaho Republican and expecting something else?

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