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Idaho Science Standards (Rule 08-0000-1900) — 2020

Summary: This rule proposes to maintain Idaho Science Content Standards, which provide an important baseline for teachers to ensure that students develop the skills needed to thrive in the 21st century.

ICL's position: Support

Current Bill Status: Approved

Issue Areas: Climate Change

Official Legislative Site

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.

Then 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 The administration took this opportunity to streamline rules and remove outdated direction. That’s why the legislature in 2020 is reconsidering more than 6,000 pages of revised rules, including the science standards.

Throughout the 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 2019.

If both the House and the Senate reject the current proposal, teachers will be left with no statewide direction. While some larger school districts have already adopted more detailed standards, many smaller districts will be left in the lurch.

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.