Climate change deletion finalized in Idaho

The Idaho House of Representatives voted 56-9 to adopt Senate Concurrent Resolution 121 on March 24, 2017, thus finalizing the legislature's decision to delete five standards — those discussing climate change and human impact on the environment — from a proposed new set of state science standards for Idaho.

As NCSE previously reported, the House Education Committee originally voted in February 2017 to remove the five standards, on the grounds that they failed to present "both sides of the debate." Despite overwhelming testimony from the public in favor of retaining the standards, the Senate Education Committee followed suit later in the same month.

The recommendations of the two education committees were incorporated in SCR 121, which approves and extends temporary rules of state agencies subject to the legislature's review. The Senate adopted SCR 121 on a voice vote on March 15, 2017, apparently with little discussion or controversy.

On the House floor, however, there was what the Spokane Spokesman-Review (March 24, 2017) described as "lengthy" debate. Ilana Rubel (D-District 18) was quoted as saying of the deletion of the material, "This takes us into the dark ages of science denial, and is absolutely something we should not be doing."

But Scott Syme (R-District 11), who led the House Education Committee's effort to remove the standards, was quoted as saying, "The overriding concern was we just wanted a little balance in it ... In fact, we didn't go as far as I really wanted to. And in retrospect, we probably should've exempted another five [standards]."

More than one legislator quoted in the Spokesman-Review story emphasized that the legislature's decision was temporary. "That means a team of science teachers will be back on the job this summer, for the third consecutive year, working on wording" for a revised set of standards for the legislature's review in 2018, noted Idaho Ed News (March 23, 2017).