Statehouse roundup, 2.7.20: House Education wrapping up rules review

The House Education Committee capped off a busy week of repealing standards and rules Friday by removing references to academic standards found in a new set of rules.

Continuing an effort it began on Thursday, House Education finished dealing with new, pending rules affecting career-technical education standards and science assessments.

On Thursday and Friday, the committee went into the new pending rules and repealed references to academic standards that it had deleted earlier in the week from larger, original omnibus rules.

Rep. Gary Marshall

Reps. Gary Marshall, R-Idaho Falls, and Bill Goesling, R-Moscow, led the effort to remove references to academic standards, so the newer rules would not conflict with the much larger omnibus rules.

“We want to make sure we don’t undo what we did on Wednesday,” said Marshall, referring to the committee’s vote to repeal math, English language arts and science standards. “This just put us in compliance and conformity with what we accomplished on Wednesday that is the intent of this.”

Friday’s action might signal that — following five weeks of debate and divided hearings — House Education has completed its unpreceded rules review for the year.

The debate over rules and standards came to a head Wednesday in a dramatic fashion, with House Education outright repealing all K-12 academic standards in math, English and science. Along the way, the committee also rejected the senior math requirement.

However, under the Legislature’s convoluted rules review process, the story is only halfway over.

The Senate Education Committee has yet to weigh in and now controls the final, decisive vote.

Senate Education may:

  • Reject the standards, which would remove them from the books completely with no other standards in place to replace them.
  • Approve the standards, which would leave them in place despite House Education’s repeal.

Under legislative rules, both chambers must agree in order to reject a rule. In most cases, it takes approval from only one chamber to keep them in place.

Senate Education doesn’t meet Friday, which means Idahoans have to wait at least through the weekend to find out what will happen with academic standards.

Until Senate Education acts, it is impossible to know what will happen with the academic standards.

Online library

House Education introduced a bill Friday, designed to create a new “statewide online student literacy and academic text support system.”

Rep. Ron Mendive, R-Coeur d’Alene, said he pushed the bill as a way to expand reading opportunities for children. He said students in rural areas don’t have the same access and resources as students in larger communities and school districts.

“What it does is give schools and parents options to gain literature for their children,” Mendive said.

Under the bill, the online literacy system would offer unlimited access to nonfiction texts, meaning novels would not be available under the system.

In a note attached to his bill, Mendive estimated statewide implementation of the literacy system would cost $1.5 million.

Funding for the program is not included in either Gov. Brad Little or state superintendent Sherri Ybarra’s budget proposals.

Rep. Barbara Ehardt, R-Idaho Falls, asked Mendive to provide followup information about how his system would differ from existing online library repositories, such as the Libraries Linking Idaho database.

Introducing Mendive’s bill clears the way for it to return to House Education for a full hearing and vote.


Clark Corbin

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