BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Idaho Senate on Monday passed legislation accepting a $6 million federal grant to improve early childhood education from birth through age 5.
Lawmakers voted 18-17 to approve taking the money that’s part of a reworked bill rejected by the House last month. The new legislation now heads to the House.
Backers said the grant is needed to improve early childhood education because many children enter first grade unprepared.
They also argued that the program will be administered by Idaho and materials to teach reading and math will be selected by Idaho instructors.
The state board of education would administer the grant with the help of the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children, distributing the money to child care programs and other organizations to be used for things like library programs, kindergarten readiness and support for homeschooling families.
Opponents said Idaho shouldn’t take the money because it will add to the federal debt. Opponents also said the money would be used to promote social justice or a liberal agenda in the very conservative state.
The grant was awarded to the state by former President Donald Trump’s administration to “support the development of Idaho’s early childhood care and education system” for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.
*This story has been corrected to show the grant will be administered by the state board of education, not the state education department.