Year Three: State schedules next round of science standards hearings

The State Department of Education is about to launch a series of public meetings focused on updating academic content standards — including the hotly debated science standards.

The six meetings will kick off next week in Twin Falls and run through April 20 in Coeur d’Alene.

In addition to science standards, state officials will also discuss information and communication technology standards and driver’s education standards.

If the past two years are any indication, the science standards will again be the focal point.

During the just-completed 2017 session, Idaho lawmakers edited the standards to delete five references to human impact on the environment and climate change. First-year Rep. Scott Syme, R-Caldwell, said the science standards ignored positive human contributions to the environment, such as the development of clean, renewable energy sources.

“For me it wasn’t about climate change,” Syme told Idaho Education News last week. “It was about just human interaction with the environment. I said, ‘We all understand humans can do bad things, let’s talk about some of the science behind how we mitigate those bad things.’”

From the beginning, the new science standards were temporary in nature, and subject to further review in 2018. State officials will use April’s public hearings to solicit additional comment and collect suggestions, in search of wording that can secure the blessing of the 2018 Legislature.

About 20 of Idaho’s most decorated science teachers, scientists and other professionals developed the standards presented this year. Most of the team has been working on crafting and revising science standards since 2015. But the 2016 Legislature quietly rejected the first draft without any public input. At the time, some lawmakers complained the state failed to solicit adequate public comment, even though the team followed the appropriate rules and laws.

The public comment deadline is April 27. State officials are accepting online comments, and comments at the public hearings.

The temporary science standards are available to review online.

Academic standards public meeting schedule (all meetings run from 6 to 8 p.m., local time)

  • April 11, Twin Falls, CSI Herrett Center, Rick Allen Room, 315 Falls Ave.
  • April 12, Fort Hall, Shoshone-Bannock Hotel Event Center, Chief Pocatello Room, 80 Simplot Road.
  • April 13, Idaho Falls, Hilton Garden Inn, Board Room, 700 Lindsay Blvd.
  • April 18, Boise, Red Lion Downtowner, Selway/Sawtooth Metting Room, 1800 W. Fairview Ave.
  • April 19, Lewiston, Lewis-Clark State College, Clearwater River Meeting Room, 500 Eighth Ave.
  • April 20, Coeur d’Alene, Coeur d’Alene Resort, Coeur d’Alene Meeting Room, 115 S. Second St.

Clark Corbin

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