Groundhog Day? Idaho Science standards debate begins anew

Posted at 2:44 PM, Feb 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-02 16:44:38-05

This week’s education and political headlines:

Science standards, the 2018 debate. If it seems like you’ve seen this movie before, you have; for the third successive year, Idaho lawmakers are trying to agree on a new set of school science standards. The sticking point, still, is how the standards should address issues such as climate change. The House Education Committee took two days of testimony this week — hearing from scientists, teachers, and students who support robust standards — but took no action.

Gubernatorial candidates pan CEO plan. If Idaho creates a higher education “CEO,” Idaho’s next governor would inherit this new position. But no leading gubernatorial candidate, Republican or Democrat, is on board with the idea. The closest thing to an endorsement: Lt. Gov. Brad Little, Gov. Butch Otter’s preferred successor, says Otter’s idea “deserves robust discussion.”

The money race. During the second half of 2017, the three leading Republicans raised more than $1.6 million in their bid for governor. And beyond the raw numbers, the latest campaign finance reports reveal sharply different approaches to the May 15 GOP primary. Meanwhile, incumbent state superintendent Sherri Ybarra and Republican challenger Jeff Dillon have raised a paltry $8,600 for their campaigns, combined.

Ongoing drama in New Plymouth. District employees are urging Superintendent Kevin Barker to resign after the New Plymouth Education Association organized a vote of no confidence. In a letter to trustees, district employees accuse Barker of retaliation and harassing personnel “to the point of severe mental anguish.” Barker dismisses the allegations and the math behind the no-confidence vote and says he doesn’t intend to step down.

Kids can’t just set traumatic incidents aside.Five years ago, Caldwell’s Lewis and Clark Elementary School adopted a trauma-informed teaching approach, deploying breathing exercises and quiet spaces to help students navigate the school day. The results: Discipline problems are down, and reading scores have improved. “We need to create a safe emotional environment before we can even talk about academics,” principal Leigh Peebles says.


Kevin Richert is a reporter and blogger with Idaho Education News ( Idaho Education News is an independent news site focused on education policy and politics, funded by the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation. Richert has worked in the Idaho news media since 1985, as a reporter, editor and columnist.