Climate change language deleted from draft Idaho standards

"The House Education Committee voted Thursday [February 9, 2017] to remove references to climate change and human impact on the environment from a new set of science standards," according to Idaho Ed News (February 9, 2017).

The committee was considering a new set of Idaho state science education standards developed during 2016 and temporarily in effect, pending legislative approval. As NCSE previously reported, a previous set of standards was rejected by the legislature in 2016, and there was reason to think that hostility toward the inclusion of evolution and climate change played a role in the decision.

The removed standards included "Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century," with "human activities (such as fossil fuel combustion, cement production, and agricultural activity)" listed in a clarification statement among the examples of such factors. (The standard is taken from the Next Generation Science Standards.)

Scott Syme (R-District 11) led the charge against the treatment of climate change in the new standards; according to Idaho Ed News, he argued that they failed to present "both sides of the debate." Paul Amador (R-District 4B), however, opposed the removal of the standards, saying, "While I appreciate teaching both sides, I think this was a very transparent process where we relied on our highly qualified educators."

Idaho Ed News explains, "Technically, the committee approved a temporary rule including the new science standards. When the Legislature adjourns, the new standards will take effect, without the climate change language. Then, SDE and State Board officials will develop a permanent rule. ... [I]t appears likely state officials will draft new language to replace the references to climate change. Legislators would review the standards again in 2018."

In 2016, a bill permitting the use of the Bible in Idaho's public schools in connection with "astronomy, biology, [and] geology" was introduced, passed in modified form without the reference to scientific topics, and ultimately vetoed.

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