The third year — and possibly final year — of the Idaho Legislature’s science standards debate could come to closure next week.

The Senate Education Committee spent an hour taking public testimony on science standards Wednesday afternoon. As expected, the committee took no action. There is no date set for a vote, but it appears likely that the committee will vote next week.

Wednesday’s public hearing was more of the same, as senators heard another round of one-sided testimony. More than a dozen people testified — including teachers, parents, students and business lobbyists — and every speaker supported passing the controversial science standards in full, including references to climate change and fossil fuels.

But senators also spent some time drilling down into the finer details of the standards, and especially wording that their House counterparts rejected one week ago. The House Education Committee rejected one science standard, referring to air pollution and fossil fuels, and about a dozen pages of “supporting content” that refer to climate change.

Most of the standards have been approved without controversy. But the three-year-old debate at the Statehouse has centered on climate change — and what the science standards should say on the matter. Lawmakers have deleted language referring to climate change, forcing a State Department of Education to reconvene a committee of 19 educators to rewrite the standards last spring. But the rewrite still didn’t pass muster with House Education, which voted 12-4 to edit the standards even further.

But in essence, the process starts over in the Senate. The Senate can override the House’s action if it votes to adopt the standards in full.

Speakers urged senators to do just that, saying schools need to teach students about issues such as climate change.

“How are we to address and solve problems if we don’t know what they are or what caused them?” said Veronica Richmond, a 12-year-old student at the Treasure Valley Math and Science Center.

“It is important that students have an understanding of the issues,” said Trent Clark, a former state Republican Party chairman who now lobbies for Monsanto.

Click here to read the full story in the Idaho Ed News (Feb. 14, 2018)  

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