Idaho education chairmen stand up for Idaho Core Standards

An open letter to fellow lawmakers signals worry about challenges to the new system.

broberts@idahostatesman.comNovember 13, 2013 

After Sen. Steven Thayn harshly criticized Idaho Core Standards, Senate Education Chairman Sen. John Goedde thought someone should offer support for the program.

Goedde and House Education Committee Chairman Reed DeMordaunt, R-Eagle, teamed up on an letter Tuesday defending the standards as “critical in making sure every child is prepared for success after high school.”

In a letter earlier this month, Thayn and Madison School District Superintendent Geoffrey Thomas complained that the standards are untested and don’t provide for remediation.

Thayn, R-Emmett, says he’s the founder of a group called Motivating People to be More Productive, which has been critical of Idaho Core Standards. He says he’s not out to derail it but does have a number of changes in mind.

Those changes include initially limiting the achievement tests to seventh grade and higher, in part because the tests for lower grades require typing, and that might be difficult for some children.

“I don’t think it’s appropriate for elementary kids,” he said.

Goedde and DeMordaunt’s letter challenges some criticisms about the state’s version of Common Core State Standards, which has been adopted by 45 states. The standards emphasize critical thinking and set common goals for what students should know and be able to do when they graduate.

Both chairmen say they believe opponents to Common Core might mount a credible effort to roll back Idaho’s support for the standards, adopted by lawmakers in 2011. On Tuesday, Goedde and DeMordaunt said:

• Idaho Core Standards are not part of a national curriculum, as foes have said. Idaho law says selecting a curriculum is the job of local school districts: “This is how it remains today.”

• Idaho doesn’t share personal education data with the federal government, despite some concerns to the contrary. Goedde said he is working on legislation that would bar the state from sharing that data in the future.

Bill Roberts: 377-6408, Twitter: @IDS_BillRoberts

Idaho Education News contributed to this report.

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