Senate Education takes up science standards Thursday

When we last saw Idaho’s new science standards at the Statehouse, the House Education Committee did some editing.

On Feb. 9, the House committee deleted references to climate change and human impact on the environment from the standards. One critic of the standards, Rep. Scott Syme, R-Caldwell, argued that the original language did not teach “both sides of the debate” over climate change.

The Senate Education Committee will take up the science standards Thursday. Its meeting will begin at 3 p.m. at room WW55 in the Statehouse’s basement garden level.

When the Senate committee takes up the standards Thursday, they have several options — which might or might not end the back-and-forth over the rule.

Senators could vote to adopt the standards in full, including the references to climate change. Senators could make their own changes to the standards — or even reject them entirely. Senators also could pass the standards with the House’s changes intact, which would put the two committees in agreement and settle the issue for this year.

Either way, the science standards are temporary in nature. State Department of Education and State Board of Education will work on permanent standards to bring to the 2018 Legislature.

Before the 2017 session, Gov. Butch Otter and the State Board enacted the proposed science standards — including the references to climate change. However, the Legislature retains the authority to review agency rules — and, sometimes, reject or amend them.

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