A state committee has made another attempt to break a deadlock over addressing climate change in Idaho classrooms.
But the last word in this controversy belongs to Idaho lawmakers — who removed references to climate change from state science standards earlier this year.
The State Department of Education unveiled five new climate change standards on Friday, with wording designed to address lawmakers’ concerns. The new language “was reworded to place a balanced focus on solutions and problems,” according to an SDE summary released in conjunction with the new standards.
The 2017 Legislature removed five standards that reference climate change and human impact on the environment. Lawmakers suggested that the language did not address both sides of the debate over climate change, and did not consider the possibility that human activity can have a positive effect on global climate.
Lawmakers adopted the remaining science standards earlier this year. They went into effect on a temporary basis, and will be reviewed in full in 2018.
After the legislative session, the SDE solicited public feedback online and held a series of six public meetings across the state, receiving more than 1,000 public comments. Then an SDE committee began working on a rewrite.
The committee tried to respond to lawmakers’ concerns, said committee member Christopher Taylor, the Boise School District’s science, social studies and health coordinator.
“We went through the five that were rejected and we talked a lot about how we want to keep the integrity of the standards,” Taylor said. “But we did look at legislators’ comments and took out words we knew were hot buttons.”
The committee also reviewed public comments before drafting the proposed new standards. Taylor said 98 to 99 percent of all comments supported implementing the science standards in full, including references to climate change and human impact on the environment.
The next step in the process comes in August, when the State Board of Education reviews the new language. The standards then go to the Legislature in 2018.
Click here to review the science standards approved earlier this year. (The standards lawmakers removed are set out in red text.)
Click here to read the full story in Idaho Ed News (May 19, 2017)