House panel rejects Idaho math, science, English standards

Posted at 2:38 PM, Feb 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-05 16:38:46-05

BOISE, Idaho — A House panel on Wednesday rejected math, science and English standards used to make sure Idaho’s 300,000 students are meeting specific criteria.

The House Education Committee voted 10-5 to reject the standards put forward by the Idaho State Board of Education as part of its rules package.

The arcane administrative rules process involves both the House and Senate. The standards would remain in effect unless the Senate also removes them. In 2018, the House panel rejected some science standards involving climate change -- but a Senate panel left them in, nullifying the House action.

If the Senate also rejects the standards, the Board of Education would create temporary rules to take before lawmakers next year.

The Idaho Content Standards are heavily based on Common Core standards and are often referred to by that name.

The Common Core standards are benchmarks adopted by more than forty states to describe what students should know after completing each grade. The standards were developed by the National Governors Association, but became a frequent target of Republicans after the Obama administration pushed states to adopt them.

In general, opponents contend they are a federal program with sometimes inappropriate curriculum being forced on states, while allowing some companies to profit at the expense of Idaho school kids who aren’t achieving better results.

“It is time to pitch these out, find something that actually does work for our kids -- so they can learn,” said Republican Rep. Judy Boyle.

Republican Rep. Dorothy Moon, in arguing to reject the standards, said students were being given inappropriate reading material.

“I don’t know why some of these books are even creeping into our schools, and shame on us for letting that happen,” she said.

Lawmakers who wanted the standards rejected also said student test scores have mostly remained flat under the standards.

Those in favor of keeping the standards, in general, say the standards are something states voluntarily opt into with identifiable benchmarks that help schools and teachers without setting curriculum and are keeping Idaho students competitive.

Both sides agreed the standards were tougher, with those supporting them saying flat test scores meant students were learning more under the tougher standards.

If the standards are rejected, “test scores are going to go down,” said Democratic Rep. Steve Berch.

Democratic Rep. John McCrostie also said the standards should be left in place. “We have to have standards,” he said. “There’s no red tape reduction that is going to eliminate the need for standards,” he said.

(by Keith Ridler)