BOISE, Idaho — On Monday, the House Education Committee held a hearing to meet with and hear a report from Idaho State Board of Education president Kurt Leibich.
After the presentation, Representative Dorothy Moon (R-Stanley) asked Leibich:
"The Idaho Association of Educating Young Children (IAEYC) brought forward a $6 million dollar grant and you say there is no critical race theory or doesn't seem to be an issue in Idaho. If you were aware of any of the hearings on that program that was defeated by the legislature, it was laden with critical race theory (CRT) curriculum for kids from infancy to pre-k. Is this something that you all are going to push again or will you do a more thorough investigation of any programs that you tried to bring into the state with these $6 million in federal grant funds?"
Leibich responded by saying that $6 million dollars was supposed to fund early childhood education in Idaho over three years, which would have made it an $18 million dollar grant.
That money would have been used for districts and curriculums all over the state so they could help local school districts develop curriculums themselves in order to meet the needs of students at the local level.
Leibich said there was no specified curriculum attached to it at all.
"If there was a curricular aspect to it that included critical race theory concepts that would be news to me and I'd be concerned about it," he said.
Rep. Moon responded by saying:
"I mean there obviously I worked with one of those cohorts down in Boise County and I did see the curriculum that was being brought in and it was very much CRT," she said. "So I'm just saying in the future it would be wonderful if you could screen some of the ties to this grant money and what is being expected of our educators to be put forth before these little kids, because if you were to go back and look at the hearing you would probably see there is a lot of CRT materials that were being provided to these school districts so it is there."
Sitting next to Rep. Moon during that hearing was Representative Julie Yamamoto (R- Caldwell). As Rep. Moon spoke, Rep. Yamamoto was visibly upset.
On Wednesday, Brian Holmes spoke with her about her thoughts.
"I cannot play poker. It is not in my being to not react to the things I hear and see so yes I disagreed with what she was saying." Yamamoto said.
Rep. Yamamoto, a former teacher herself, told KTVB she has friends who have been educators for decades, and this CRT isn't something that is happening in Idaho classrooms.
"I wanted parents to know what we were doing. Our job wasn't to inculcate our values," she said. "But as for these others, the critical race theory, Marxist ideologies, I have to say, most teachers I know, and they're still in the field, that is not their purpose. They are trying to make sure little people are reading and reading well enough they can go on to read to learn."
"Clearly, Representative Moon has been in these things and heard parents and teachers and students say this isn't happening in our schools, but yet she is still, to stick with the poker terms, doubling down on it by bringing it back up again this year as if it was still a thing. She is convinced, as are some other of my colleagues, that this is rampant."
We reached out to all three school districts in Boise County via email to see if CRT is a part of their pre-k curriculum.
Randy Thompson, the superintendent of Garden Valley schools said:
"I am not aware of what Representative Moon is referring to in the video. I note that she indicated the Idaho Association for Educating Young Children provided materials for children from infancy to pre-k that was laden with CRT. While we do have a pre-k program in our school, we do not teach CRT, and to my knowledge, we have not received any materials from Idaho AEYC."
Dennis Chesnut, the superintendent, and principal of Horseshoe Bend schools said:
"I am aware of Rep. Moon's comments, but it is my impression that she is referring to the $6 million federal preschool grant the legislature declined to approve last legislative session. Horseshoe Bend School District has never been a recipient of that grant as our preschool has always been funded through local dollars. What I can tell you unequivocally is that critical race theory is not a part of Horseshoe Bend School District curriculum and anyone claiming otherwise is misinformed."
Brian Hunicke, the superintendent of the Basin School District,
"The last time Rep. Moon was in our district was 2019 when she donated her step award to the elementary. She has not viewed our preschool curriculum because our elementary principal has not had a request from her nor our preschool teachers. We have no CRT curriculum in our preschool program unless you identify ABC's and 123's as CRT."
The Basin School District released a statement in response on Thursday.
KTVB has made multiple attempts to reach out to Rep. Moon for comment, but we have yet to hear back.
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