The state Board of Education has scheduled four hearings, including one in Idaho Falls, to take input on Idaho’s educational standards.
The state Legislature adopted the Idaho Core Standards, a version of the Common Core standards most states have adopted, in 2011. Now, however, the state administrative rules establishing the standards — and the rest of the state’s administrative rules, for that matter — are up for review during the 2020 legislative session and must be re-approved.
Due to a disagreement between House and Senate Republicans over whether to change the rule-making process, lawmakers left Boise this year without passing a bill codifying the state’s rules for another year. As a result, all of them expired on June 30. Gov. Brad Little unilaterally cut some of them and left the rest, including the core standards, in place as temporary rules lawmakers will review during the next session.
The board has scheduled four hearings, all running from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.:
n in the College of Western Idaho Academic Building, Room 102E, Nampa, on Aug. 19,
n in the College of Southern Idaho Hepworth Building, Room 108, Twin Falls, on Aug, 21,
n in the North Idaho College Student Union Building, Lake Coeur d’Alene Conference Room, Coeur d’Alene, on Aug. 22, and
n at the College of Eastern Idaho, Building 6 (Health Education Building), Room 150/152, Idaho Falls, on Aug. 27.
About 1,000 people signed a petition from the Idaho Freedom Foundation to hold the hearings, said IFF spokesman Dustin Hurst.
“People are very, very interested in this topic,” he said.
Former Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, a Republican, supported the standards, which were adopted on his watch, while many in the party’s more conservative wing have opposed them and called for them to be rolled back. Former Rep. Ron Nate, R-Rexburg, introduced a bill in 2017 to abolish the standards and another in 2018 to let districts opt out, although neither of them went anywhere.
Tracie Bent, the board’s chief planning and policy officer, will run the hearings, said Board of Education spokesman Mike Keckler, explaining what the standards are, how they have changed, why they were adopted and the subjects to which they pertain. Keckler said that while general opinions would also be welcome, he encouraged people to come with specific input.
“We’re hoping that folks will take the time to review the standards and come prepared to ask specific questions about them and offer input,” he said.
Hurst said he is glad the state board is holding the hearings. The IFF is asking the state to schedule one more hearing in central Idaho so people in that mostly rural region of the state don’t have to drive several hours to attend one of the others.
“We had lots of people from central Idaho sign our petition to arrange these hearings,” Hurst said. “We’re hoping for at least one more.”
Hurst said he hopes the hearings lead to further discussion of the standards during the 2020 legislative session.
“We see this as an opportunity to ... determine if this is really a good fit for the state,” he said.