By Asher Ali
(Boise, Id.) The office of Idaho Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin released records on Monday of public comments about Idaho public schools’ teaching curriculum to a local paper after a month-long dispute.
The Idaho Capitol Sun submitted a public records request on April 21 for comments that McGeachin’s office received from a Google form link, and the Sun came into possession of the submissions to McGeachin’s office after a prolonged back and forth.
When the Sun obtained access to the 238-page document and its 3,600 comments, however, the news outlet found that all the names, contact information and feedback had been blacked out. Idaho public records law states that an Idaho law must be cited to substantiate a redaction, but the Sun alleges that no such citation was provided.
Throughout the process, McGeachin has been questioning why the Sun needs access to the fully unredacted version of the document.
The Sun wasn’t explicit in explaining why the publication was seeking the names, contact information and full statements from submissions, but the publication did state it’s requested and received full public comments from the Idaho Office of Attorney General in the past.
McGeachin announced on May 21 a new education task force that aims to analyze the implementation of critical race theory teaching in schools, and the submissions were to help McGeachin gain insight into the public’s stance on the current school system.
Officially called the “Task Force to Examine Indoctrination in Idaho Education,” the group of 14 individuals met for the first time on May 27 and will meet once a month until August. McGeachin hasn’t been shy about her stance on critical race theory being a form of indoctrination, delivering that message to her supporters and news outlets alike.
“You’d think a red state like Idaho would be safe from this, but this is a theory and an indoctrination of our young people that is threatening the very fabric of our conservative, American values,” McGeachin told Fox News host Tucker Carlson last week.
This initiative by McGeachin follows the passing of Idaho House Bill 377, a law that attempts to undermine teaching critical race theory by instead promoting “dignity and nondiscrimination” in school curriculums.
With the newly established task force, McGeachin said she hopes to fully understand why this “religion of secularism and guilt” is being implemented in public school teaching so that she can best figure out how to prevent it. However, while the bill has passed and McGeachin’s task force is working on how to enforce it, there are opponents to the new path that Idaho’s education system is heading down.
“This is a ‘monster under the bed’ problem brought about by a false and misleading narrative that hopes that some legislatures have willfully conflated,” Layne Mclnelly, president of the Idaho Education Association, said in a statement. “They aim to diminish the public’s trust in our teachers and schools, just to come back next year and push to privatize education.”
McGeachin arranged her task force team one day after announcing that she will be running against incumbent Idaho Gov. Brad Little in the 2022 gubernatorial elections. While the plan to start up this task force may help McGeachin on the upcoming campaign trail, it’s not the only move she’s made in recent weeks to establish her base in a state that’s known to be especially conservative.
In a move that Little called “an irresponsible, self-serving political stunt,” McGeachin enacted an executive order on May 27 which prevented state authorities from implementing mask mandates in any subdivision - including public schools. She obtained the power to do so while Little was away at a conference in Tennessee, but within 24 hours, Little rescinded the order upon his return to Boise.
While Little accused McGeachin of taking such a step to further her own initiative, McGeachin told Fox News that she felt it was her duty to take action on the matter in order to uphold her sworn oath of protecting the rights and freedoms of Idaho citizens.