So, once again, we are debating in public meetings the K-12 content standards in math, English and science outside the regular six-year rotating schedule as provided for in Idaho Code, thanks to the extremist Idaho Freedom Foundation, from whose front porch the mainstream is not even visible.
Sorry folks, this is a done deal. In 2015, the Idaho Legislature mandated that the standards be reviewed two years early due to the uproar by such educational luminaries such as Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, who claimed these standards were an assault on God and the American way, full of retinal scans, Jihadist literature and deviant sexual material, with zero evidence. But evidence is for sissies, apparently.
The statewide online review conducted by the Idaho State Department of Education from August to December 2015 resulted in indisputable evidence of public support: nearly 7,500 comments on the standards, with an overall approval rating of 85 percent for math and English. Then a diverse group of stakeholders, including teachers, administrators, business leaders, and parents, revisted all the comments. In the end, only a couple dozen minor changes were recommended. These change were subsequently ratified by the Idaho Legislature with little fanfare.
Content standards matter because they define what students should know and do at each grade level. Children live up to or down to our expectations, and these standards set a high bar for developing critical thinkers, innovators and lifelong learners. They also connect in the deepest way to the promise of our nation — equality and freedom.
But freedom without equal opportunity rings hollow. High expectations for all regardless of zip code or economic status operationalizes equal opportunity and is the righteous path.
These standards and the subsequent tests aligned to them have illuminated where the most help is needed and the greatest challenges lie. “In times of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
Truth is, the Idaho Freedom Foundation, funded by the Koch Brothers, is a destroyer not a creator, and Idaho should not be hijacked by the lunatic fringe.
Written by Scott Cook, the State Department of Education’s director of academics from 2011 to 2018.