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Will ID Legislators Allow Climate Change in School Science Standards?

Some Idaho school districts already have rigorous science standards for teaching climate change. (Idaho National Laboratory/Flickr)
Some Idaho school districts already have rigorous science standards for teaching climate change. (Idaho National Laboratory/Flickr)
February 1, 2018

BOISE, Idaho – Idaho lawmakers are holding public hearings Thursday and Friday on proposed science standards for Idaho public schools.

At issue: how, or whether, those standards should address climate change.

The past two years, legislators have rejected new science standards, which haven't been updated since 2001.

That's despite approval from the State Board of Education, which also approved this year's standards, and overwhelming support at statewide public hearings.

Ilah Hickman, a junior at Timberline High School, will be testifying Thursday on the importance of teaching climate change to her generation.

"For them to have the ability to decide for us not to teach climate change is withholding something that we need to know how to be able to combat later in life because we're the next generation that's going to have to deal with the effects of climate change," she states.

Idaho is the only state where legislators have blocked climate science from curriculum requirements.

State Rep. Scott Syme (R-Caldwell) led the opposition to these standards, saying they basically state "humans are bad" without addressing mitigating factors humans could employ to fight climate change.

Thursday's public hearing starts at 8 a.m. and Friday's at 8:30 a.m. in the Capitol's Lincoln Auditorium.

Chris Taylor with the Boise School District has helped write the new standards for the past three years. In the latest revision, he says the team in charge added the potential natural causes of climate change. It also focused on solutions rather than just outlining the problems, as legislators have requested.

Taylor says Boise School District already has rigorous standards for teaching climate change. He maintains those standards address legislators' other concerns that students be allowed to make up their own minds on climate change.

"In our standards, we're giving information but we're giving data – real scientific data – and then kids can actually look at that data and then make their own opinions on it,” he explains. “That's something I do agree with. I mean, we want kids to make their own opinion but they need to look at the data. We're not going to hide this data from them."

Hickman says protecting the environment shouldn't be a partisan issue.

"I honestly think that we should be so eager to help the Earth in any way that we can that we set aside our politics, our religion, our backgrounds, everything that comes into play in order to help the Earth," she stresses.


Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ID