This week’s education and political headlines:
Climate change language deleted. Once again, the House Education Committee has edited proposed school science standards to delete references to climate change. The deleted standard lists several potential human-caused environmental impacts, including “wind turbines, erosion due to deforestation, loss of habitat due to dams, loss of habitat due to surface mining, and air pollution from burning of fossil fuels.” The science standards debate is in its third year; the language now heads to the Senate Education Committee.
Graduation rates, and politics. Idaho’s latest high school graduation rates came out Wednesday — and the numbers are more of the same. State superintendent Sherri Ybarra found some comfort in the narrowest of increases, from 79.66 percent to 79.67 percent. Ybarra’s GOP opponent, Wilder Superintendent Jeff Dillon, blames the low graduation rates in his district on a principal’s reporting mistake.
A pitch for full-day kindergarten. Teachers from across Idaho descended on the Capitol Monday to give legislators a glimpse inside the classroom. They used the opportunity to advocate for reduced class sizes, classroom technology and expanded, full-day kindergarten. “Any amount of time we can give children more opportunities would be a good thing,” said Post Falls teacher Karen Lauritzen.
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Student surveys. Starting in April, the state will survey students on school safety, learning climate and the relationships between students and teachers, among other topics. The state will use these results to help identify low-performing schools. But some educators are concerned with the state’s choice of vendor — and what will become of the data itself.
Advanced opportunities, and demographic gaps. Lawmakers heard a progress report on the state’s rapidly growing advanced opportunities program. In 2016-17, 27,859 high school and junior high school students took dual credit classes, and parents and students wound up saving $46 million in college tuition. But students in poverty and students of color are less likely to take advantage of the state-funded program.
Kevin Richert is a reporter and blogger with Idaho Education News (idahoednews.org.) Idaho Education News is an independent news site focused on education policy and politics, funded by the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation. Richert has worked in the Idaho news media since 1985, as a reporter, editor and columnist.