HCR 39: Rejecting Idaho Education Standards V2.0 – 2022
ICL's position: Oppose
Current Bill Status: Adopted
Issue Areas: Climate Change, Education, science
House Concurrent Resolution 39 replaced HCR 27. Both resolutions would reject Science, Math and English Education Standards before the Education Committees have even had a chance to review them. Introduced by Idaho House Education Committee Chairman Rep. Lance Clow (R-Twin Falls), the standards have long been a target of his committee for years.
Instead, he wants to force adoption of the version of standards that he supports, which have not yet been approved by the State Board of Education (see House Bill 716). Instead of short-circuiting the process, the Legislature should reject this resolution, approve the pending rules and allow future revisions to be considered pursuant to the regular Administrative Rulemaking process.
At a March 3, 2022 State Board of Education meeting, Superintendent of Schools Sherri Ybarra indicated it could cost up to $54 million to update the assessment, materials, and training. A far cry from the $375,000 that Rep. Clow estimated in his Fiscal Note.
In 2016, the Idaho Legislature rejected revised science standards because they included discussion of the formation of the solar system, the age of the earth, human impact on the environment and climate change.
In 2017, the House Education Committee took issue with 5 specific paragraphs related to climate change. They approved the remainder of the standards on a provisional basis for one year, but asked a committee of science teachers (and the State Department of Education) to redo the climate-related standards.
In 2018, the House Education Committee again took issue with 6 specific standards, AND moved to strip all supporting content from the Science Standards (representing approximately 40% of the document). Luckily, because of the way that Administrative Rules are approved in Idaho, when the Senate Education Committee supported the standards in full (including supporting content) they were approved.
Then, in 2019, Rep. Mike Moyle (R-Star) sponsored a bill that would have given veto power to one chamber if they didn’t like a rule. While the bill died in the Senate, the dispute led to the expiration of over 8,000 pages of Administrative Rules that govern state agencies and processes.
As a result, Governor Little was forced to re-implement the entire rule book and redo every single rule. The administration took that opportunity to streamline rules and remove outdated direction. In 2020 the legislature reconsidered more than 6,000 pages of revised rules, including the science standards, which the House rejected. Again the Senate refused to go along with the House, and approved the rules. At the same time, they established a new committee to reconsider the rules.
That committee met in 2020-21 to reconsider the Science Standards once again, making a handful of changes to the language regarding climate change, human impacts to the earth, extinction, and more. Ultimately, the State Board of Education did not accept the rewritten rules and instead advanced the previous version. Now Rep. Clow is trying to force the State Board of Education to accept his preferred rewrite.
Why does it matter?
Throughout years of public comment and review, thousands of comments supported sound science standards, including climate change, with only a handful of comments in opposition. Year after year, the State Board of Education unanimously approved the standards for submission to the Legislature, which they did again in August 2021.
If both the House and the Senate approve HCR 39, teachers will be left with no statewide direction for science, math or English. While some larger school districts have already adopted more detailed standards, many smaller districts will be left in the lurch. The absence of standards could also put millions of dollars of federal funding at risk.
We must equip Idaho’s children with a quality education rooted in well-founded principles — their future careers and lives as informed, engaged citizens depend on it.