The voters of district 14 must choose between two incumbent Republican senators. Senator Steven Thayn, the most innovative Republican voice in education, and another incumbent senator whose expertise is tax policy.
“Senator Thayn is the only senator in Idaho creating and implementing policies that improve public education by empowering parents. There are many Republican legislators capable of tax policy” according to Representative Ryan Kerby.
A national debate is raging on the proper role of parents in education. Senator Thayn has consistently advocated for an expanded role of parents. Will district 14 voters see Senator Thayn’s influence worthy of continuation?
While most Republicans support school choice. Steven Thayn does much more than talk. He is the undisputed leader of parental choice within the school system. He is recognized not only in Idaho for his work, but also the nation with articles appearing in the Wall Street Journal, Reason Foundation, and the Manhattan Institute. Thayn’s policies now benefit over 40,000 students annually.
There are two approaches to school choice.
1. Choice that requires parents to leave the system: home school, charter, private, ESAs, or vouchers. These are the choices typically supported by Republicans (Thayn does also).
2. Thayn’s unique contribution is in-school choice or increasing the choices of parents that choose to stay within the public school system. Thayn wants to improve public schools, not abandon them as some advocate.
Senator Thayn has a list of innovative successes that voters should know about. These innovations are changing the face of public education.
The father of the Advanced Opportunities program which...
o Allocates $4,125 to every student to customize their education
o Every high school has become a mini-community college at no added building expense
o Almost 270,000 college credits are earned each year by Idaho students in high school ranking Idaho #1 in the nation in high school students earning college credits
o Students can challenge classes
o Created an early graduation scholarship
o Almost eliminated the senior “slump.”
o Thousands more students taking summer classes
o Advanced Opportunities rewards effort and reinforces the culture of work in Idaho
The author of the Innovative Classroom program
o Creates a structure where parents can choose an alternative curriculum
The author of the Self-Directed Learner
o Rewards motivated students with in-school flexibility and/or attendance flexibility
The author of the Jumpstart Kindergarten class
In-school flexibility is important. Only a fraction of parents can afford a private school or to home school. The children of parents that either choose to use the public-school option or can’t afford a private school also deserve a great education. Only providing choices to those that outside public schools is not prudent.
Senator Thayn believes in natural law which is the belief that there is an eternal law that is unchangeable that governs the universe and should be sought after and obeyed. The Founding Fathers of the United States all understood and followed natural law.
Natural law states that all men and women are equal before the law. Everyone should obey this eternal law. Therefore, it is the only secular philosophy that supports limited government because the rulers and citizens are subject to this law.
As it relates to education, Senator Thayn believes that a key aspect of natural law is that parents are responsible for the education of their children, not the state. The state can provide a system of education; however, this does not relieve the parents of their responsibility to see their children are educated.
Placing the responsibility in the lap of parents affects the design of public schools. The schools should serve parents and provide a customer-service function. Some policy makers and a few educators even believe that parents are the problem, and the state knows best. Senator Thayn vehemently disagrees with this perspective.
Horace Mann established public schools in 1852 with the assumption that the state is responsible to educate, and the parents are the problem. These false assumptions infected public education from the very beginning and needs to be remedied. Re-empowering parents is what motivates Senator Thayn and can be seen in all his proposals.
He focuses on win-win solutions (benefit parents, students, taxpayers, and teachers) that empower people with choices.