Dems' Cheap Stunt Blocks School Choice in Idaho

Kyle Olson

4/8/2011 12:01:00 AM - Kyle Olson

If for no other reason, you have to admire the tenacity of some legislative leaders to look out for the interests of their teacher union sponsors.

The Idaho House of Representatives was debating a bill that would eliminate the cap on the number of charter schools allowed in the state when the minority leader, Democrat John Rusche, accused proponents of an ethical violation. Of what, you ask? They were reportedly wearing free yellow scarves with the National School Choice Week logo and this, in his mind, constituted a gift related to a bill being debated.

His complaint ultimately led to the tabling of the bill, which was originally expected to pass the Republican-majority House. With only days remaining in the legislative session, Rusche likely succeeded in killing the initiative.

What an incredibly cheap stunt to block the expansion of school choice for hundreds if not thousands of kids in Idaho.

Rusche has been endorsed and financially supported by the Idaho Education Association. Its parent, the National Education Association, is a leading critic of school choice and charter schools.

Perhaps if school choice proponents were throwing around thousand dollar campaign checks instead of free yellow scarves, they would have an easier time in the legislature. Maybe Rusche was insulted with the cheap scarf.

In a news account, Rusche was quoted as saying the scarves were "influencing" legislators’ votes. If that’s the case, that says more about the lack of principles held by legislators than the types of "gifts" being doled out.

Regardless, Rusche owes school choice advocates, and the children wishing to attend charter schools, an apology, and should make every effort to correct his stunt.