For two years running, a committee of award-winning Idaho science teachers has met to revise outdated science standards. These standards provide guidance to K-12 teachers across the state. Each year, the revised standards have been unanimously endorsed by the State Board of Education. Unfortunately, each year, the Idaho Legislature has rejected the revised standards.
In February 2017, the House and Senate education committees voted to omit certain sections (see the sections at the bottom of this page). They objected to language referring to the major role that human activities have on climate change and the importance of sustaining biodiversity to support and enhance life on Earth.
Why Are Science Standards Important?
Science underlies so much of our world—from the technologies that allow us to access information from any corner of the globe to the groundbreaking medical advancements that save lives every day. Just as science has improved our health and communications, Idaho’s children need a solid foundation in science to help them understand the natural world, protect biodiversity, and address the realities of a changing climate.
Ice caps have no political agenda. Thermometers have neither a conservative nor liberal bias.
Of the nearly 70,000 peer-reviewed articles on global warming published in 2013 and 2014, only four authors rejected the idea that humans are the primary drivers of climate change. Atmospheric carbon concentrations are nearly 44% higher than pre-industrial levels. And 2016 was the warmest year on record, which broke the previous records of 2015 and 2014. In fact, 16 of the 17 warmest years on record have occurred since 2001.
Idaho’s leaders like to promote science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) as the critical educational building blocks for today’s students and tomorrow’s leaders. If they’re serious about ensuring that our children are prepared to face the challenges of the 21st century, science standards must be robust and based on sound science. Our children deserve no less.
Speak Up for Idaho Students!
The State Department of Education seeks your input. You can attend a public hearing near you. And you can write a respectful email to let them know that you support rigorous science standards for all Idaho students. Use the form below to share your support, and personalize your message by adding the reasons why you support these science standards.
These talking points may help you focus on what matters most to you:
- Revised science standards should include a a robust discussion on climate change and the importance of sustaining biodiversity.
- Any changes to the science standards should have a solid foundation in empirical data.
- Ensuring that our students are prepared for the 21st century workforce requires a solid foundation in science, especially if Idaho is serious about promoting STEM-education.
- The success of Idaho’s economy relies on a well-educated citizenry. If we leave our students behind, Idaho will not be positioned to compete with neighboring states.
- Idaho cannot attract new businesses if our educational system is viewed as deficient.
- Idaho politics should not control our science curriculum.
- The State Department of Education should retain all sections that were omitted during the 2017 legislative session and ensure that the revised science standards are considered as a pending (or permanent) rule during the next session.
Here’s What the Omitted Sections Said
Here’s the full text of standards that were omitted from the science standards by the Idaho Legislature in 2017:
ESS3-MS-5. Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century.
- Further explanation: Examples of factors include human activities (such as fossil fuel combustion, cement production, and agricultural activity) and natural processes (such as changes in incoming solar radiation or volcanic activity). Examples of evidence can include tables, graphs, and maps of global and regional temperatures, atmospheric levels of gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, and the rates of human activities. Emphasis is on the major role that human activities play in causing the rise in global temperatures.
ESS3.C: Human Impacts on Earth Systems
- Human activities have altered the biosphere, sometimes damaging or destroying natural habitats and causing the extinction of other species. But changes to Earth’s environments can have different impacts (negative and positive) for different living things.(ESS3-MS-3)
- Typically as human populations and per-capita consumption of natural resources increase, so do the negative impacts on Earth unless the activities and technologies involved are engineered otherwise. (ESS3-MS-3, ESS3-MS-4)
- Human activities (such as the release of greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuel combustion) are major factors in the current rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature. Other natural activities (such as volcanic activity) are also contributors to changing global temperatures. Reducing the level of climate change and reducing human vulnerability to whatever climate changes do occur depend on the understanding of climate science, engineering capabilities, and other kinds of knowledge, such as understanding of human behavior and on applying that knowledge wisely in decisions and activities. (ESS3-MS-5)
LS4.D: Biodiversity and Humans
- Biodiversity is increased by the formation of new species (speciation) and decreased by the loss of species (extinction). (LS2-HS-7)
- Humans depend on the living world for the resources and other benefits provided by biodiversity. But human activity is also having adverse impacts on biodiversity through overpopulation, overexploitation, habitat destruction, pollution, introduction of invasive species, and climate change. Thus sustaining biodiversity so that ecosystem functioning and productivity are maintained is essential to supporting and enhancing life on Earth. Sustaining biodiversity also aids humanity by preserving landscapes of recreational or inspirational value. (LS2-HS-7, LS4-HS-6.)
LS4.D: Biodiversity and Humans
- Humans depend on the living world for the resources and other benefits provided by biodiversity. But human activity is also having adverse impacts on biodiversity through overpopulation, overexploitation, habitat destruction, pollution, introduction of invasive species, and climate change. Thus sustaining biodiversity so that ecosystem functioning and productivity are maintained is essential to supporting and enhancing life on Earth. Sustaining biodiversity also aids humanity by preserving landscapes of recreational or inspirational value. (LS4-HS-6, LS2-HS-7.)
ESS2 .D: Weather and Climate
- Current models predict that, although future regional climate changes will be complex and varied, average global temperatures will continue to rise. The outcomes predicted by global climate models strongly depend on the amounts of human-generated greenhouse gases added to the atmosphere each year and by the ways in which these gases are absorbed by the ocean and biosphere. (ESS3-HS-6)