Boise, Idaho – Governor Brad Little joined legislators and Idaho education leaders today in announcing the establishment of the new Parent Advisory Council for the popular Empowering Parents grant program and encouraged Idaho parents to apply for a spot on the council.
“Recognizing the parents’ role as the primary decision makers in their children’s education, we created the Empowering Parents grant program to help families take charge of learning tools outside the classroom. The Parent Advisory Council will advise the State Board of Education on ways to strengthen the Empowering Parents grant program,” Governor Little said.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Debbie Critchfield, State Board of Education President Kurt Liebich, House Speaker Mike Moyle, and Senate Pro Tem Chuck Winder joined the announcement.
The Empowering Parents grants help families cover expenses such as computers and software, instructional materials, and tutoring. Public, private, and homeschool families are eligible. To date, tens of thousands of students have benefited from the grants.
The purpose of the Parent Advisory Council is to advise the State Board of Education on ways to “implement, administer, and improve” the Empowering Parents grant program. The council was established in Idaho Code 33-1032. It will include seven members – three members appointed by the Governor, two members appointed by the Senate Pro Tem, and two members appointed by the Speaker of the House. The council will include regional representation from across the state.
Superintendent Debbie Critchfield will serve as the nonvoting chair of the Parent Advisory Council.
“Input from parents is essential and this is one more way we can tap into parents to help shape Idaho education,” Critchfield said. “I’m excited to work with the council and hear directly from parents on how we can take advantage of all that Empowering Parents offers our state.”
Any parent living in Idaho who has a school-aged child (K-12) in Idaho can apply for membership on the council. Preference will given to parents who have applied for Empowering Parent program funds or who, for the initial appointment of the panel, have indicated their intent to apply for program funds, according to Idaho law.
Applications will be accepted through April 30, 2023. Additional details on how to apply are available at https://empoweringparents.idaho.gov/parent-advisory-council.
Council membership will be announced May 15, 2023. Superintendent Critchfield and the council members will spend the summer traveling the state to meet with and hear from Idaho families about the Empowering Parents grant program. Then, the council will work up a report with their recommendations for the State Board of Education. The State Board of Education will hear the report in the fall.
Governor Little noted Idaho families already benefit from abundant school choice options, and the Empowering Parents grants fit into that. Specifically, Governor Little pointed out that:
- Idaho is third in the nation for education freedom – measures that include spending, school choice, transparency, and regulations
- With nine different school types available to Idaho families – including traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online academies, homeschooling, and others – there are hundreds of schooling options available to Idaho families
- Idaho is one of only a handful of states with the fewest restrictions on allowing parents to send their child to any public school they wish
- Idaho is a top 10 state for the number of students enrolled in public charter schools
- Idaho led the country in standing up the Empowering Parents grant program to provide access to approved educational resources outside the classroom. Public, private, and homeschool families are all eligible to receive grants.
“The Empowering Parents grants are effective, popular, and worthy of continued investment, and with the help of the Parent Advisory Council, we will continue to strengthen the program,” Governor Little said.