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ID Lawmaker: New Science Education Standards Not Set in Stone

Idaho is the first state to revise its science-education standards to de-emphasize humans' role in climate change. (Takver/Flickr)
Idaho is the first state to revise its science-education standards to de-emphasize humans' role in climate change. (Takver/Flickr)
May 31, 2017

BOISE, Idaho - While Idaho's state Department of Education introduced revised standards for science education regarding climate change in mid-May, one state representative says there is still time to change lawmakers' minds.

The new standards de-emphasize humans' role in climate change in order to appease conservative lawmakers, who voted to update them. The changes were made after a three-week public comment period, in which House Assistant Minority Leader Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, said 99 percent of the 1,000 comments received opposed the revisions. However, Rubel said, the process isn't over.

"People shouldn't be discouraged from it not having worked thus far," she said. "Often this is how it works in the Legislature: They hold their ground, they hold their ground, they hold their ground - and then, they get sick of facing this battery of public assault, and they finally crack."

Lawmakers who supported the revision say the current standards fail to reflect both sides of the debate. The state Board of Education will review the changes in August, followed by another three-week public comment period. The board then will vote on the new standards. The Idaho Legislature will review them during the 2018 session.

Other states have reviewed their science-education practices but Idaho is the first state to revise its climate-change standards. Rubel said sectors of the economy are dedicated to mitigating the effects of a changing climate, and Idaho's children could be left out of those sectors without the full scope of scientific knowledge.

"Putting Idaho students at a real disadvantage by not teaching them the most accurate science that we can on this critical issue is really going to put them at competitive disadvantage versus kids from other states, who are going to learn pure, accurate, unadulterated science," Rubel said.

Idaho school districts still will be able to set their own standards about climate-change education.

The revised standards are online at

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - ID