Idaho State Capitol

Idaho State Capitol

BOISE -- The House Education Committee voted to repeal the entirety of Idaho’s English Language Arts, Math, and Science standards in Wednesday's meeting, Feb. 5.

The long-awaited decision on the standards by the committee aligned with Rep. Judy Boyle’s (R - Midvale) motion to remove the ELA and literacy standards, math standards including the high school senior math course requirements, and science content completely.

Two other motions, one made by the chairman of the committee Rep. Lance Clow (R - Twin Falls) failed 12-3, and the other by Rep. John McCrostie (D - Garden Valley) failed without a vote.

Many members of the committee expressed that they were conflicted entering the discussion and voting process of Idaho’s Content Standards. Being one of the most debated topics over the last decade, lawmakers have received a wide range of comments and criticism from parents, educators, and agency officials.

“There is the belief that a parent can no longer help a student, their student, with math,” said Rep. Gayann DeMordaunt (R - Eagle). “I believe our State Board of Education [has] the ability to consider other standards that will keep family involved in our kid’s education.”

Since their full adoption in the early 2010s, Common Core subjects of English Language Arts, Literacy, and Math have received an influx of uproar. Not only in Idaho but across the country states that had previously adopted Common Core have switched to alternative standards of K-12 education. Mentioned multiple times in Wednesday’s House Education Committee meeting was Florida’s riddance of Common Core to a new set of guidelines.

After the National Assessment of Educational Progress (N.A.E.P) showed a flatline and decline in testing data, the state decided to stop implementing Common Core State Standards according to Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran. In recent years, Arizona, South Carolina, Oklahoma and Indiana have removed Common Core. According to the World Population Review, 12 more states are in the process of repealing the standards including Alabama, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Maryland.

“There are other states that have other standards than common core. If we reject [these standards] it’s not going to be the end of the world,” said Rep. Boyle.

In both the open testimony hearings last month and Wednesday’s committee discussion was the argument about the standards requirements and their connection to school curriculum.

“I’ve studied the standards, I’ve tried to find the boogeyman in these standards,” said Rep. Raymond (R - Menan). “So far I haven't found the boogeyman.”

Lawmakers, teachers, and education officials pointed out that the standards are not school curriculum, but how educators implement these guidelines are a major issue.

Rep. Gary Marshall (R - Idaho Falls) said he was, in fact, in support of standards, as a former educator he recognized the importance of institutions having clear guidelines for teachers and their students. However, he was opposed to retaining Common Core and the science standards because of their increasing political nature within the state.

“We must find a way to depoliticize our educational standards. We cannot come back year after year after year after year and be in this same situation,” said Rep. Marshall. “The bogeyman for me isn’t in a single standard, but in the collective of what the standards do.”

Both bodies, the house and the senate have to agree on any change to these temporary rules. Due to the failure to reauthorize administrative rules at the end of the 2019 session, lawmakers have been meticulously combing through Idaho’s thousands of codes.

If the senate approves the decision by the House, they would send their changes to the State Board of Education who would put in place a temporary rule while they revise the standards for the 2021 session. Coincidentally ELA and math guidelines were already scheduled to be reviewed next year by the State Board of Education and the legislature, which might influence the senate's ultimate decision.

“The senate may reject this change. Based on what happened last year one cannot assume that if the senate supports the entire docket without change that something won't happen at the end of this year that will allow the [their] decision in this particular case to prevail,” said Rep. Steve Berch (D - Boise). “All bets are off based on the actions from last year.”

Chairman of Senate Education Committee Sen. Dean Mortimer (R - Idaho Falls) says they are hoping to discuss the ELA, math and science standards next week.

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