For the week of October 7 thru October 13, 1998  

Handsome, hates kids

If Idaho were to advertise for a date in the personal ads, it might look like this:

Handsome, likeable and lots of fun. Likes beautiful sunsets over mountain lakes and picnics at the end of the trail. Nothing better than the Milky Way or a silken powder run. Frugal to a fault. Family values a must. Kids? Hate ‘em. Send photo and response to: Idaho Statehouse, Legislative Chambers, Box 000, Boise, ID.

Idaho is one of only 11 states that does not put one dime of matching state money into Head Start programs. Of kids in Idaho eligible for the preschool program, just 21 percent get in because of the funding shortage.

Crazy? You bet.

If Idaho kids had a penny for every word uttered on their behalf by state legislators, they would be writing with gold-plated pencils. But the legislators’ generosity stops where federal dollars begin.

Some leaders have made it a matter of principle to oppose accepting federal money for schools or for health care. Too many strings attached. While they argue about strings, schools in the state continue to crumble, the dropout rate remains intractable, one in three Idaho moms gets little or no prenatal care and Head Start goes begging.

Idaho spends more than half of its budget on education every year, but leaders ignore the fact that healthy kids who go to preschool do better all the way through high school.

While the Republican-dominated legislature worries endlessly about accepting federal money for education, it worries little about federal dollars when they pour into Mountain Home’s Air Force base, the INEEL nuclear laboratory, highways and dams.

Idaho’s leaders must stop sacrificing kids on the altar of this ill-begotten ideology. Let them sacrifice things easier to fix when they break.


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