The House Education Committee finally got around to voting on the K-12 Science Education Standards and supported a motion from Rep. Judy Boyle (R-Midvale) rejecting the entire Science Standards, along with the Math and English/Language Arts Standards.

Earlier this session, the House Education Committee held a hearing on this issue, which filled up the meeting room and an overflow room, to boot. The committee heard testimony from supporters, including several members of the team of award-winning scientists who developed these Idaho specific standards. They also heard from opponents, including committee members Rep. Dorothy Moon (R-Stanley) and Tony Wisniewski (R-Post Falls).

As a refresher, in 2015, a team of Idaho’s best science educators and scientists revised the science standards only to have the standards rejected based on some House members’ concerns over the inclusion of climate change and human impacts on the environment. In 2017, the House again asked science educators to revise the standards. More than 1,000 Idahoans submitted comments in strong support of these science standards in 2017 and 2018, with less than 1% of comments opposed.

In 2018, the House Education Committee moved to strip specific climate-related standards and all “supporting content,” which provide a critical link to curriculum and are developed and approved by local school boards. Thankfully, the Senate disagreed and voted to retain the standards as written.

During the 2019 legislature, though, all rules expired because the House did not pass a bill that extends all existing permanent rules from one year to the next.

That meant that all K-12 standards were back in play, including the science standards.

One full month into the session, the Senate still hasn’t scheduled a hearing. If they go along with the House and strike these standards, there are no existing standards in place so teachers would be left with no consistent direction. Once again, we’re counting on the Senate Education Committee to do the right thing and approve the standards in full.

Why Is It Important?

First, we care about a well-informed citizenry, which includes a solid educational foundation based on scientific principles.

Second, Idaho is already losing out. According to the most recent data, 7,000 science-related jobs are going unfilled in Idaho because we don’t have the candidates to fill those positions. That hurts our economy and costs us millions.