My buddy, Lewiston Tribune opinion writer Marty Trillhaase, managed to cram myriad distortions and inaccuracies into his Sunday screed against the Idaho Freedom Foundation. Thus, I’m again forced to write a Turnabout that begins with the immortal words, “Marty has it all wrong.” So here it is. Here is how Marty has it all wrong.
l Trillhaase claims if Idaho Press reporter Betsy Russell had not “unearthed a series of emails from” Idaho Freedom Foundation, you would never know the policy ideas IFF has shared with legislators. False. In fact, nearly all of the emails Russell “unearthed” and reported on were mostly the same emails that thousands of Idahoans, including news reporters and editors who sign up for IFF’s free emails, receive each week. The only mystery here: Why did Russell decide to make our emails seem shrouded in secrecy when they’re free and widely distributed?
l Trillhaase claims that Rep. Barb Ehardt’s criticism of Boise State University’s diversity initiatives “was in error.” Wrong again. Yes, BSU’s “Black Graduation” and “Rainbow Graduation” are paid for with money from the school’s contract fees with Coca-Cola. But it’s still public money and that money would ordinarily be used to reduce the burden for taxpayer money and student fees had the funds not been directed toward the school’s radical social justice agenda. Ehardt and 27 other state lawmakers correctly pointed out that student fees and general fund money do pay for other radical programs, such as training for BSU faculty and staff about white privilege, preferences to award scholarships, jobs and graduate slots based solely on race, gender, and other initiatives built on identity politics.
l Trillhaase claims that rising college tuition is largely a function of “Idaho disinvestment in higher education.” Nope. Since 2010, higher education’s taxpayer support has increased 18.2 percent. In that time, full-time enrollment has dropped and graduation rates have remained in the cellar. So where does the extra cash go? Most of the additional money, according to state data, has gone to pay for increased overhead and administrative costs at Idaho’s four colleges and universities. That’s right. Your money is being used for empire building, not for educating students. Idaho’s higher education system suffers from the same problem facing colleges and universities across the country: Costs are out of control, and young adults and their parents are rethinking the return on investment for a college degree.
l Trillhaase says public hearings in August revealed that Common Core “maintained substantial support from parents and educators.” Wow — and no. Those public hearings revealed virtually no support among parents and, apart from applause by the radical labor unions, teachers supplied big doses of criticism for how they’ve been forced to teach to tests instead of focus on educational excellence among students. Indeed, opposition outnumbered supporters in Coeur d’Alene, and the crowd was divided at the hearing in Idaho Falls.
One thing Trillhaase did get correct — and quoted accurately — is that I did say earlier this year that I don’t think government should be in the education business. I did say, government education is the most virulent form of socialism (and indoctrination thereto) in America today. I did say, the predictable result has been higher costs, lower performance and a system that twists itself in knots to prove it’s educating kids when really it’s not. And though Trillhaase looks disapprovingly at my take on education, it’s interesting that he didn’t deny it.
At IFF, we are not content with an education system that has failed and continues to fail. It’s not fair to students. It’s not fair to parents. It’s not fair to educators. And that’s why the Idaho Freedom Foundation spends so much time and energy on education issues. We’re working to give Idahoans something better, something we can all be proud of. So we’ll keep doing building something better, occasionally pausing to write Turnabouts like this one, in response to Trillhaase’s blind defense of the status quo.
Hoffman is president of the Idaho Freedom Foundation.