Idaho’s Senate Education Committee heard public testimony on Idaho’s proposed science standards during Thursday’s meeting. Many of those who testified were scientists with advanced degrees or university professors, but there were also parents, students and other interested parties. 22 of the 23 people who testified urged the committee to adopt the complete version of the science standards rather than the version approved by the House Education Committee, which removed five passages, primarily relating to climate change. The House Education Committee had not allowed public comment prior to removing those references.
Thursday’s public testimony focused on several objections to the removal of the climate change references, including:
- The thorough, well-vetted process used to develop the full standards (IEA member Melyssa Ferro was one of 19 members on the Science Standards Committee).
- Refuting the concept of “both sides of the story”, which the House Education Committee used as rationale for their decision. “There is no scientific debate, therefore there should be no political debate,” said one former university professor.
- Damage to Idaho’s reputation. “Idaho will be perceived as being backward,” testified a retired biostatistics professor. Another worried about the negative connotation it would carry for Idahoans looking at college and career opportunities in other states.
- Not teaching climate change will be harmful to children’s education and future.
Following public testimony, Chairman Sen. Dean Mortimer (R-Idaho Falls) opted to hold the rule in committee until Monday, citing the difficult circumstances the Senate Education Committee faces as a result of the action taken by the House Education Committee. Options for the Senate Education Committee are:
- Adopt the standards approved by the House Education Committee, which do not include the climate change references. This would extend the temporary rule currently in place, but would continue to omit the five passages in question.
- Adopt the original version of the science standards. Since rules need to be adopted by concurrent resolution, both chambers need to agree on the same version. If the two committees are unable to agree, the temporary rule will expire at the end of the legislative session and Idaho will revert to science standards approved in 2001.
Mortimer said that he hopes holding the rule until Monday will allow time for discussions with members of the House Education Committee and exploration of other options. No public testimony will be taken at Monday’s Senate Ed meeting, which begins at 3:00 PM in room WW55. You can still contact members of the Senate Education Committee and/or the House Education Committee by e-mail or phone.
Funding Formula Committee Gets a Green Light
The House Education Committee passed HCR 12 Thursday, potentially paving the way for the Funding Formula Committee to give a full report to the 2018 Legislature. The bill would allow the Funding Committee to begin meeting again during the current legislative session, and would provide them with $400,000 for software and/or consulting services as they test out various models of school funding. The plan would be for the committee to take the next steps in their work and develop recommendations to be presented to the legislature in 2018. IEA members Sen. Janie Ward-Engelking (D-Boise) and Rep. John McCrostie (D-Garden City) are members of the Funding Formula Committee. Read more in the Idaho Education News story.
Reminder: JFAC Budget-setting for K-12 Monday
We encourage professional educators to contact members of JFAC in advance of Monday’s meeting to set the K-12 public education budget. Let them know what they should prioritize—Career Ladder, discretionary/operational funding, technology, counseling, literacy programs, etc.