Idaho Senate Committee Keeps All References To Climate Change In New Science Standards

Feb 22, 2018

An Idaho Senate panel voted to retain all references to man-made climate change in proposed science standards for K-12 education, which could end a three-year fight over the rules.

The state Senate Education Committee voted 6 to 3 Thursday to adopt the proposed science standards as-is – without axing references to climate change.

State Sen. Janie Ward-Engelking (D-Boise), a former teacher herself, made the motion. She says legislators need to trust the committee that took two years to draft these new standards.

“It’s very important, I think, to recognize that these are the professionals of our field writing these standards and content and it’s very important that we adopt them in their entirety,” Ward-Engelking says.

State Sen. Carl Crabtree (R-Grangeville) agrees, saying the process that produced the proposal needs to be respected.

“That process, folks, in my view, is kind of the American process of success and if we don’t believe in that process then we probably don’t like the product,” says Crabtree. “I believe in the process.”

The House Education Committee had cut pages of expanded references to climate change earlier this month, but left several mentions of it in the standards themselves.

Under that plan, teachers from Bonners Ferry to Preston would still have to include climate change in their lesson plans.

But curriculum developers worried removing the so-called supporting content from the standards would leave educators in more rural or conservative parts of Idaho without the backing of the state to teach the full scope of how human activity can contribute to climate change.

Sen. Lori Den Hartog (R-Meridian) was among the three no votes, saying she doesn’t want to lead students to conclusions.

“I do not believe it is the role of the legislature and the state as a whole to be approving and putting in rules supporting content,” Den Hartog says.

The adoption of the unedited standards by the Senate Education Committee sets up a standoff.

If neither chamber agrees on which version to adopt, the standards will go into effect without changes at the end of the legislative session.

Copyright 2018 Boise State Public Radio