Please contact your Idaho senator today to support S 1293, a Senate bill that gives parents whose children attend public schools a meaningful amount of leverage when they ask a public school to treat their child a bit differently than others. This innovative bill is truly a leap forward in getting public schools to provide an education that is tailored appropriately to the individual student.

Public schools are known for a rigidly standardized education. While current law gives disabled students a right to “reasonable accommodations,” and gives students with learning disabilities a right to an “individualized education plan,” students whose genuine unique needs don’t neatly fit into those two categories are left to “sink or swim.” It’s a brutal system, but S 1293 sponsor Senator Mary Souza has the courage to challenge it.

In effect, S 1293 gives every student the right to have their own legitimate needs met (with some reasonable limitations). Public schools must use their “best efforts” to meet those needs. That’s a huge step forward.

In the past, if a parent wanted to bring about change in an unresponsive public school, his or her only meaningful options were to try to change the composition of their school board or get the superintendent replaced. Getting either of those done tended to be long, slow, difficult and uncertain. S 1293 will be a powerful engine for improvement in the public schools.

Most parents will never need or request an accommodation. Of those who do, not every request will be granted. But many will. And perhaps in the long run public schools will begin to look at students differently.

This bill originally contained language that could call into question the “fundamental parental rights” standard set by a new law last year, but Sen. Souza listened to our concerns and has amended the bill to remove that confusion. As amended, this bill represents a wonderful step forward for parents in the public school community.

If your children are home-schooled or attend private school, this bill as amended will not affect you directly. But by preserving the rights of public school parents to speak into their child’s education, we also shape the kind of citizens who will be leading our institutions and organizations in the coming years. In addition, promoting respect for parental rights in one area strengthens parental rights in other areas too. In these ways this bill affects everyone.

So please take a moment right now to contact your state senator and ask him or her to support the bill. Your message can be as simple as, “Please support S 1293 as amended. With the amendment, it is an excellent bill that gives parents a meaningful voice when they ask a public school to accommodate their child’s needs with the best quality education for that individual.”

You can find contact info for and identify your senator using this page, or if you already know your lawmaker’s name you can find contact info on the Senate directory here.

Thank you for taking a moment to make your voice heard for the rights of parents with students in Idaho’s public schools.

Sincerely,

Michael Ramey
Director of Communications & Research