Common Core ‘conundrum’: Lawmakers acknowledge difficulties with K-12 standards

REXBURG — Idaho’s version of Common Core helps define the skill sets high school graduates possess.

But it also has its issues, House Speaker Scott Bedke told patrons in Rexburg Monday night.

“It’s always a conundrum,” Bedke said of the implementation of statewide learning standards. “It’s always going to be difficult.”

Bedke, R-Oakley, outlined his view of issues surrounding the standards during an Idaho Republican Caucus meeting at Rexburg City Hall. Six other House Republicans joined Bedke in an attempt to connect with East Idaho constituents ahead of the 2020 legislative session.

Idaho’s Common Core-rooted learning standards surfaced mid-meeting. Both Bedke and Rep. Jerald Raymond offered their takes.

On one hand, the standards create consistency in learning among the state’s K-12 students, Bedke said. And that helps ensure that Idaho’s high school graduates can compete with kids from other states.

“What do we want that piece of paper to mean?” Bedke said.

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On the other hand, nationally derived learning standards can spell controversy in a state where stakeholders often tout the need for local control of K-12. This concern surfaced during recent State Board of Education hearings on the standards. While educators voiced general support for the standards at meetings in East Idaho and both the Treasure and Magic valleys, several parents and other non-educators said an emphasis on nationwide standards undermines state and local control.

Raymond, R-Menan, is aware that some Idahoans want to ditch the standards, but he pointed to one problem.

“What do we replace (them) with?” said Raymond, a member of the House Education Committee.

Bedke and Raymond were the only lawmakers to chime in on the standards Monday. Both acknowledged pushback — even among educators — over testing requirements tied to the standards. Both educators and non-educators lamented these requirements and procedures during the recent State Board hearings.

“Testing is a common challenge,” Raymond said.

The State Board will this fall review a far-reaching rule that includes the standards. The 2020 Legislature will have the final say.

Other topics discussed Monday include:

  • Medicaid expansion.
  • Transportation funding.
  • Land management.
  • Program budgets.
  • Equal rights for divorced parents.

Other House member participants at Monday’s meeting included:

  • Assistant House Majority Leader Rep. Jason Monks, R-Nampa.
  • Majority Caucus Chair Rep. Megan Blanksma, R-Hammett.
  • Rep. Doug Ricks, R-Rexburg.
  • Rep. Britt Raybold, R-Rexburg.
  • Rep. Rod Furnriss, R-Rigby.

Some 40 people attended Monday’s two-hour meeting.

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