New interim committee set to look at academic standards

A new legislative committee is set to take a look at academic standards next week, continuing a years-long debate.

The Idaho Content Standards Interim Committee will conduct its first meeting at 9 a.m. Monday in the Statehouse’s room EW 42.

Although the 2020 Legislature adjourned in March, education committee members signed a letter requesting the replacement of academic standards. The Legislature also passed Senate Concurrent Resolution 132, calling for an interim committee to study existing academic standards and recommend new ones.

In four of the last five sessions, legislators have debated and attempted to reject some combination of science, English or math standards.

Earlier this year, the House Education Committee repealed all academic content standards, but the Senate  overruled this decision.

Sen. Steven Thayn

Sen. Steven Thayn, an Emmett Republican who will co-chair the interim committee, said the committee offers a chance to build consensus around what new standards should look like, instead of fighting over existing ones.

“It’s an opportunity to build something,” Thayn said. “That’s what we’re trying to do is build standards that are rigorous, but also come from Idaho educators and address the concerns of Idaho, parents, educators, administrators and legislators.”

However, existing standards have proven popular with a majority of educators who testified at recent Statehouse hearings.

On Monday the committee will discuss its expectations and review the state’s process for proposing and drafting new standards.

Thayn said the committee likely won’t get down into the detail of writing standards.

The committee includes 10 legislators — eight Republicans and two Democrats, five senators and five representatives.

Thayn will be a legislator to watch in the coming months. With Senate Education Committee Chairman Dean Mortimer, R-Idaho Falls, retiring, Thayn could be in line to serve as chairman of Senate Education.

Committee roster

Sen. Steven Thayn, R-Emmett (co-chairman).

Sen. Lori Den Hartog, R-Meridian.

Sen. Jim Woodward, R-Sagle.

Sen. Dave Lent, R-Idaho Falls.

Sen. Janie Ward-Engelking, D-Boise.

Rep. Gary Marshall, R-Idaho Falls (co-chairman).

Rep. Dorothy Moon, R-Stanley.

Rep. Ryan Kerby, R-New Plymouth.

Rep. Paul Amador, R-Coeur d’Alene.

Rep. John McCrostie, D-Garden City.

Clark Corbin

About Clark Corbin

Reporter Clark Corbin has covered Idaho government and education for more than a decade. He’s followed every legislative session, gavel-to-gavel, since 2011. Clark is a co-host of the Extra Credit podcast with Kevin Richert published on Fridays. You can follow him on Twitter: @clarkcorbin. He can be reached by email at [email protected]

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