When Idaho Freedom Foundation President Wayne Hoffman indicated that IFF wanted to dismantle Idaho’s public education system, many wondered what, if anything, the group had in mind to replace it. In a February 2019 opinion piece, Hoffman spelled out the group’s antipathy to public education: “I don’t think government should be in the education business. It is the most virulent form of socialism (and indoctrination thereto) in America today.” We are now starting to get a picture of IFF’s vision for higher education in Idaho.
For instance, Boise State University professor Scott Yenor, an IFF collaborator, has spoken out about the role of women in higher education. He said, “Every effort must be made not to recruit women into engineering….Ditto for med school, and the law, and every trade.” He appears to believe that if young women become over-educated and independent, they are “more medicated, meddlesome and quarrelsome than women need to be.” He said, “Young men should…inspire young women to be secure with feminine goals of homemaking and having children.” Seems that IFF’s higher education plan for women would be to keep them barefoot and pregnant.
Prof. Yenor served on the Indoctrination Task Farce with IFF favorites Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin and Rep. Priscilla Giddings. After four hearings, the Task Force folded its tent without producing credible evidence of student indoctrination. After getting a load of professor Yenor’s opinions, it appears that these three IFF-affiliated inquisitors may have been searching for indoctrination in all the wrong places. They should have included some personal mirrors in their tool kits.
The lack of findings was not surprising, because no evidence of indoctrination had been produced by IFF’s legislators during the 2020 session. A false indoctrination claim was made against Boise State, resulting in the University’s budget being slashed by $1.5 million. The claim was later debunked following an independent study. Nevertheless, IFF did a victory dance over the BSU punishment, while also savoring its work in rejecting a $6 million federal grant for pre-kindergarten.
While all of this was going on, IFF was having some luck in tearing apart a fine institution of higher learning in the Idaho Panhandle. North Idaho College in Coeur d’Alene has been a jewel in Idaho’s community college crown since its founding in 1933. It has provided an excellent education to thousands of Idaho kids over the many years since. During the heyday of the Aryan Nations hate group in Hayden Lake in the 1980s, faculty and students of NIC played an instrumental role in opposing and eventually ejecting the white supremacists from the area.
Brent Regan, the chairman of IFF’s board as well as chair of the Kootenai County GOP, helped to engineer a hostile take-over of NIC’s board of directors in the 2020 election. Ever since, the three IFF-supported board members have created havoc with the school. The President was fired without cause and is now suing for wrongful termination. The faculty has been disrupted by the insurgents and the accreditation status of the college appears to be in jeopardy. IFF was certainly successful in making a mess of this great community college in short order.
So, now we have an idea of what the higher education system in Idaho would look like if the Idaho Freedom Foundation and its allies were able to achieve their goal of getting the State of Idaho out of the education business–chaos, dysfunction, chauvinism and extremist indoctrination. Thanks a lot, IFF, but no thanks. Our higher education system is not perfect, but it does not need your kind of fix.
Jim Jones, an Idaho native and decorated U.S. Army veteran of the Vietnam War, was elected as Idaho Attorney General in 1982 and served two elected terms. He was elected to the Idaho Supreme Court in 2004 and re-elected in 2010. Jones served as Chief Justice from August 2015 until his retirement from the Supreme Court in 2017.