North Idaho

CdA lawmaker pens bill to make parents' beliefs factor into kids' education

CdA lawmaker pens bill to make parents' beliefs factor into kids' education

POST FALLS, Idaho - People across the panhandle are debating an Idaho senate bill that would allow parents to opt their child out of public school courses if they think it interferes with their morals and beliefs.

Right now, parents can already take their kids out of classes if they don't agree with the material. This bill makes it state law and also gives parents the opportunity to be more involved like looking at the course and learning materials beforehand.

Still, some think the way it's written can have unintended consequences.

Evolution and the Big Bang Theory have always been controversial lessons in school, so much so that Senator Mary Souza (R – Coeur d'Alene) is trying to make it easier for parents to take kids out when that time comes up.

"We really want to empower parents to get back into the relationship with teachers, and with administrators and school boards to become active participants in their children's education," she said.

Souza authored the bill, which basically gives parents the authority to pull their kids from class if the material interferes with the parent's beliefs. Whether its one day or one semester isn't specified in the bill. Some parents are applauding her effort.

"I don't want my grandchildren being taught that we came from apes. I don't believe it and I don't feel like our children should be forced something that we don't believe," grandparent Doug Kettle said.

Others fear it could deprive students of basic education and cause a ripple effect.

"Lets say for whatever their religion they don't want to take science, then what's going to happen if they go to college and they're required to take science, they're not going to have any knowledge of it," parent Randi Malone said.

That's the same concern that panhandle school superintendents have, who sent a letter to Souza explaining schools already offer similar opt outs and that her legislation isn't necessary.

"We're always very sensitive to what the parents needs are and they're very important to us, they're our best and foremost partner with the children," Post Falls Superintendent Jerry Keane said.

He adds there's always the option to home school, but Souza argued that not all parents want to do that.

She says this is purely an effort to put on paper that parents can get involved with what their child is learning

"This is in no way a negative on schools on teachers or the system, it is an attempt to bring parents back into the equation," she said.

So far reaction to her bill has been mostly favorable with other lawmakers in Boise, where it passed the Senate with a 23-12 vote Monday and now heads to the House.