Idaho Senate Education Committee approves science standards in full

Posted at 4:28 PM, Feb 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-22 22:00:18-05

After three years of facing resistance inside the GOP-dominant Statehouse, Idaho schools will finally be able to implement a new slate of robust science standards

The Senate Education Committee on Thursday approved adopting the updated science standards. The move concludes years of debate led by some Republican lawmakers who had tried to amend the proposed standards due to concerns over references to global warming and the origin of the universe.

For example, just earlier this year, the House Education Committee voted to adopt the new science standards but only after scrubbing some references to climate change. However, the Senate panel's Thursday decision nullified the House's amendment.

"It's been well vetted, we've had public hearings on this information, and, as a former teacher, I know how important the standards and content are to beginning teachers," Sen. Janie Ward-Engleking, D-Boise, said. 

The House and Senate committees heard hours of public testimony on the topic with the vast majority testifying in favor of adopting the standards in full. 

Content standards are reviewed every six years, but Idaho's science section hasn't changed since 2001, even though they have long been criticized for being too vague and lacked depth.

“This is a good day for the students and families of Idaho,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra said. “This is a thorough and well-crafted group of performance standards that, once formally adopted, will ensure Idaho students have the insight and proficiency they’ll need to succeed in life, in college and on the job. There are thousands of STEM jobs left unfilled in this state because there aren’t enough people prepared to fill them. These standards, replacing woefully outdated standards from 2001, will help change that."

The Associated Press Contributed to this article.