Bedke on science standards: ‘I’m OK with how it turned out’

House Speaker Scott Bedke says he wasn’t involved in behind-the-scenes talks last week about Idaho’s science standards.

But Bedke, R-Oakley, supports the final outcome: a series of standards that are silent on climate change.

“I’m OK with how it turned out,” Bedke said Wednesday afternoon, during a question-and-answer session sponsored by the Idaho Press Club.

The House Education Committee forced the issue on science standards on Feb. 9, voting to delete five sections that referred to climate change and related topics. That left the Senate Education Committee in something of a bind. Under Idaho’s complicated rulemaking process, the two committees had to agree on some form of science standards, or all of the new standards would have been struck down, forcing the state to revert back to old standards written in 2001.

Last Thursday, Senate Education held off on a vote, in order to allow senators and House members to look for a compromise. Senate Education relented on Monday, voting to side with the House.

Bedke said he supported this final decision, because it allowed the state to update most of its science standards while setting the climate change question aside. “There’s zero controversy in the periodic table,” he said.

Monday’s vote is not the last word. The 2018 Legislature will have to revisit the science standards, and probably the climate change issue.

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Bedke, a rancher, expressed his personal views on climate change Wednesday. He said he has subscribed to the idea that Idaho winters are changing — but he said the winter of 2016-17 has left him wondering about climate change. Across the Magic Valley and in his legislative district, this winter has brought heavy snows and flooding that have closed and damaged roads, cutting off farms, communities and one school in Minidoka County.