Idaho Rep. Votes Against Kindergarten Funding As It Helps Mothers 'Come Out of the Home'

A Republican state representative in Idaho argued against federal funding for early childhood education and child care because it "makes it easier or more convenient for mothers to come out of the home."

House Bill 226, which would have given Idaho's education board access to almost $6 million in federal grants, was voted down by state lawmakers on Tuesday.

The bill had been expected to sail through the House after it won the support of Idaho senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, as well as the Idaho Association of Commerce & Industry and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, according to Idaho Press.

However, the measure failed with a 34-36 vote after a second ballot on Tuesday, state records show.

idaho state capitol
Idaho State Capitol in Boise. Idaho lawmakers have voted against a bill that would allow $6 million of federal funding for early childhood education. Steve Smith/Getty Images

Many state representatives, especially more conservative lawmakers, spoke out against the bill.

According to KTVB, Shepherd told the House that the measure would make it easier for mothers to leave the home and let others raise their child.

The first-term representative said: "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."

GOP state Rep. Barbara Ehardt also argued that the best place for young children was the home, rather than child care or preschool, according to Idaho Press.

Ehardt reportedly told the House she had recently heard a group of women talking about mothers who were being "forced to remain home."

She said: "You mean mothers raising their children? Have we gotten to the point that it is so denigrating and such a hardship for a mother that decides to remain home with their children that we have to disparage that?"

Another GOP state lawmaker, Priscilla Giddings, said she was concerned the funds would be used to introduce lessons that do not align with conservative values, reported Idaho Press.

Her fears related to the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children—a branch of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, whose catalog contains the line: "Whiteness, for example, confers privilege, as does being male."

Giddings said she was concerned that the organization supported a "social justice curriculum," adding: "I do not believe that you are privileged based on your gender or your race."

State Rep. Tammy Nichols reportedly told the House that the aim of the measure was to "take our children from birth and be able to start indoctrinating them."

House Bill 226 was seeking to approve the $5,980,500 early education grant, allocated by the Trump administration in January, so the state could access the funds.

Lawmakers who backed the bill argued that local organisations across Idaho, including private child-care providers and parents, would benefit from the grant.

GOP Rep. Paul Amador, the bill's sponsor said: "A study was conducted, and essentially they said that 50% of Idaho is in an early childhood education desert. So people just don't have access to child care in all parts of the state," according to Idaho Press.

"This is ultimately left up to our Idaho communities," he later added. "It's about helping children and helping families."

Beth Oppenheimer, executive director of the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children, denied the suggestions that the money would lead to the indoctrination of children.

She told the Post Register: "There were a lot of things said that were simply not true ... It was turned into something that has nothing to do with the grant.

"We do not tell local collaboratives what to teach and what not to teach. We are not engaged in teaching children transgenderism or anything of the kind."

Oppenheimer added that 65 percent of children under the age of 8 in Idaho have both parents in the workforce. She said: "We don't all have the luxury of having one parent stay at home."

Newsweek has contacted Rep. Shepherd for comment.