Update! A public hearing on the new science assessment will happen on August 20th from 6-8 pm at the State Department of Education, Barbara Morgan Room in Boise. Take action and stand up for science! 

Idaho’s K-12 science standards are up for reconsideration, once again, because of disagreement during the 2019 Idaho legislative session. That means topics such as climate change, age of the Earth, and the impact of people on the environment are on the table yet again.

In 2018, after two prior attempts, the legislature finally approved revised K-12 science standards to provide Idaho students with a more robust education. But, as a result of disagreements between the House and Senate during the 2019 session, all rules were allowed to expire.

Public comments on all rules, including science standards, were due July 10 and in just a few days, over 250 ICL members and supporters emailed the Idaho State Board of Education to ensure that Idaho remains competitive today, tomorrow and into the future. Thanks to those who took action.

What Happened with Science Standards?

The first time: Revised science standards were developed by a committee of esteemed and award-winning science educators way back in 2015. The State Board of Education submitted them for approval to the legislature in 2016. But, the Idaho Legislature rejected them, supposedly on concerns with the process. We heard the real reason was opposition to discussion of climate change, the solar system’s formation, the age of the Earth, and human impact on the environment.

The second time: Still, the State Board persisted, re-approved the same standards and submitted them for another round of legislative review. In 2017, the House Education Committee took issue with five paragraphs related to climate change. The committee approved the other standards for one year and asked the State Department of Education to redo the five climate-related standards.

Statewide public meetings were held and more than 1,000 Idahoans stood up in support of sound science standards with information about climate change. Only five people opposed them. In response, the State Board made some minor changes and unanimously approved the standards for submission to the legislature.

The third time: In 2018, both House and Senate education committees considered Idaho’s science standards for the third consecutive year. Although there was disagreement between the House and Senate, the Senate approved these standards so they were fully adopted because rules can be approved by just one chamber of the legislature.

It meant that the new standards were finally adopted and ensure that our students would receive a robust science education…Or so we thought.

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.

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.

Stay tuned! Hopefully this is the last time we have to go to battle for science standards in schools.