Idaho Freedom Foundation President Wayne Hoffman may know a lot about politics.
But when it comes to young children, he doesn’t know the difference between a graham cracker and a cupcake.
So it goes with Hoffman’s response to Senate President Pro Tem Chuck Winder’s assertion that the Freedom Foundation is threatening Idaho’s democracy.
“I think my greatest disappointment is how many legislators are willing to follow the direction of the Idaho Freedom Foundation,” the Boise Republican told a forum held by the Boise City Club. “To me, that’s one of the biggest threats we have to our democracy in our state — we’ve got a small group of people that are very vocal, that are very aggressive towards anyone that doesn’t agree with them.”
Obviously, that pushed Hoffman’s buttons because he delved into a flight of fantasy.
At issue was a $6 million a year, three-year federal grant expanding an existing $3 million a year program that had, among other things, established 15 early childhood education collaboratives, including one in Kendrick-Juliaetta.
The Idaho State Board of Education and its partner, the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children, would have piloted the program.
After the House killed that measure on a tie-vote, the Senate revived it by an 18-17 margin. House Speaker Scott Bedke, R-Oakley, refused to bring it back for another try.
“Remember that Winder also cast the deciding vote to give $6 million to a pre-kindergarten organization that promotes exposing babies and toddlers to social justice and critical race theory,” Hoffman wrote. “The legislative session ended with the bill on hold in the House, again thanks to conservative state representatives. Had Winder’s Senate gotten its way, plenty of money would have gone toward getting kids out of their homes and away from their parents so that their young minds could be shaped to support the LBGTQ agenda, radical environmentalism and union organizers.”
Consider the following:
l He takes credit for it now, but the early childhood education grant was hardly a Freedom Foundation priority. It barely registered on the freedom index, drawing a score of negative 1.
Compare that to a year ago when the Freedom Foundation was so outraged at the idea of expanding safety regulations at Idaho’s child care centers that it scored that bill a negative 7.
l The idea that “plenty of money” would be spent getting kids out of their homes is laughable.
Hoffman glossed over the fact that the bulk of the money — about $5 million — would go toward helping parents prepare their youngsters for kindergarten in a state where 58 percent of children show up for their first day of school not ready to learn. About $1 million would go toward new and existing collaboratives, which might directly involve a few hundred children.
Idaho is among only six states that refuse to spend their own resources on quality pre-kindergarten programs. The death of this grant erases a year of taking stock of what Idaho requires and then figuring out how to meet those needs.
Left unanswered in all this is whether Hoffman believes parents are placing their children in care for convenience. The fact is in Idaho’s economy, most parents must work outside the home.
l This betrays a rather shocking lack of knowledge about early childhood development. Maybe in Wayne’s World, infants and toddlers are boning up on the latest techniques in union organizing. Everywhere else, they’re getting potty trained, learning how to express themselves and developing gross motor skills — as in hand, arm, feet and leg movement. In between, there’s nap time and snacks.
Social indoctrination? How about good, old fashioned socialization — as in learning to wait your turn? Or standing in line? Or sharing?
Critical race theory? It’s more like the concept of showing respect for others’ playthings.
LBGTQ agenda? Preschoolers are working on letters, not acronyms.
Radical environmentalism? Has that got something to do with heading outside together for recess?
Whether he goaded Hoffman into this or not, Winder could not have found a better example of the Freedom Foundation’s mendacity if he tried. — M.T.