Education

Idaho Legislature signs off on school science standards that leave out climate change

Boise High School student Mahalie Hill, 17, talks with AP environmental science class teacher Alison Ward about her project examining the effects of climate change.
Boise High School student Mahalie Hill, 17, talks with AP environmental science class teacher Alison Ward about her project examining the effects of climate change. kgreen@idahostatesman.com

The Senate Education Committee voted Monday to approve new science standards for Idaho public schools that do not address the human impact on climate change.

The vote essentially kicks the question of including climate change down the road a year, because lawmakers must permanently approve the science standards in 2018

The Senate Education Committee vote comes 18 days after the House Education committee voted to pull five standards from the proposed science rules that deal with aspects of climate change. House committee members said they wanted a more balanced approach to the subject that dealt heavily with human impact on changing climate.

If the two committees hadn’t agreed on the standards, they could have been killed, which would have affected standards for all grades.

State Sen. Steven Thayn, R-Emmett, said he doesn’t think the vote was an attempt to remove climate change as a standard, but rather to give time for more discussion on how the standards can reflect a more balanced presentation by teachers on the subject.

Whether climate change is in the science standards or not, teachers and schools can still teach the subject, because curriculum is a decision made by local districts, educators says.

During a Senate Education Committee hearing last week parents, teachers, scientists and educators urged the committee not to strike climate change from the standards.

Jennifer Pierce, a geosciences professor at Boise State University, told the House committee last week that climate change is real.

“There is not another side to this story,” Pierce said.

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