Wednesday, September 22, 2021
Sept. 22, 2021

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Idaho rejects $6M federal grant for early education

Lawmaker draws ire, says mothers should stay home


BOISE, Idaho — A decision by Idaho lawmakers to reject a $6 million federal grant to improve early childhood education — and comments from one lawmaker who said mothers belong at home — raised the ire of women across the state.

Several dozen gathered Wednesday afternoon at the Idaho Statehouse holding signs with slogans like “Who let the moms out?” to demand that the lawmakers bring back and pass the childhood learning bill.

The grant was awarded to the state by former President Donald Trump’s administration to “support the development of Idaho’s early childhood care and education system” for infants, toddlers and preschoolers. The state education department would have administered it with the help of the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children, distributing the money to child care programs and other organizations to be used for things like library programs, kindergarten readiness and support for homeschooling families.

But during Tuesday’s debate on the House floor, opponents claimed it would be used to promote social justice or a liberal agenda in the very conservative state.

Rep. Charlie Shepherd, a freshman Republican from Riggins, claimed the grant would hurt “the family unit.”

“I don’t think anybody does a better job than mothers in the home, and any bill that makes it easier or more convenient for mothers to come out of the home and let others raise their child, I don’t think that’s a good direction for us to be going,” he said.

The outcry was swift and strong. Some upset Idaho residents started expressing dismay on social media posts tagged with the phrase “#OutOfTheHome.”