Science standards safe in Idaho ... for now

The Idaho Senate Education Committee unanimously voted to approve the state science standards on February 12, 2020, according to Idaho Education News (February 12, 2020). Although the House Education Committee voted earlier to repeal the standards, as NCSE previously reported, the Senate Education Committee's vote means that the standards will remain in place — for now.

Speaking before the Senate Education Committee on behalf of the standards were representatives of Idaho Business for Education, the Idaho Technology Council, the Idaho Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, and the Idaho School Boards Association. Quinn Perry of the ISBA warned that repealing the standards "has a very real possibility of causing disruption" in Idaho's schools, according to the Idaho Press (February 12, 2020).

Before the hearing, Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra warned legislators that "repealing academic standards without replacing them could jeopardize $250 million in annual federal funding for Idaho's most at-risk students," according to Idaho Education News. Ybarra encouraged legislators with concerns about the standards to participate in the next review process, scheduled to begin in 2021.

The Senate Education Committee's vote repeats a split between the House and Senate education committees over the state science standards. As Idaho Education News explains, "Under the current legislative process, most agency rules [can] go into effect with the consent of only one committee — which is what happened in 2018, when Senate Education passed science standards over the House's objections."

Apparently attempting to minimize further contention over the standards, the Senate Education Committee introduced Senate Concurrent Resolution 132 (PDF), which would form a bicameral committee to "undertake and complete a study of the Idaho Content Standards and to consider and recommend new content standards for Idaho schools." SCR 132 passed the Senate on February 12, 2020, and is now with the House Education Committee.

Glenn Branch
Short Bio

Glenn Branch is Deputy Director of NCSE.

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